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Beyond Business as Usual (report)

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This article is part of the Coal Issues portal on SourceWatch, a project of Global Energy Monitor and the Center for Media and Democracy. See here for help on adding material to CoalSwarm.

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Beyond Business as Usual: Investigating a Future without Coal and Nuclear Power in the U.S. is a report by Synapse Energy Economics for the Civil Society Institute.

The following is an excerpt from the executive summary:[1]

This study investigates a long-term, national strategy to transition away from coal and nuclear electricity and toward increased efficiency and renewable energy. The focus of the study is on what resources would be likely to replace coal-fired and nuclear generation, where they are located, and what this resource mix would cost relative to a “business as usual” energy future.
The study finds that a future built on more efficient use of electricity and development of the nation’s renewable resources would pose modest near-term costs but would cost less than business as usual over the long term. Specifically, we find that by 2050:
  • Aggressive investments in more efficient technologies in every sector could reduce electricity use by 10% from today’s requirements, or nearly 40% from a “business as usual” scenario. Utilities in several states are already achieving savings at this level.
  • The US could feasibly retire the entire fleet of coal-fired plants and build no new coal-fired generation, rather than burning more coal.
  • Tens of billions could be saved in avoided pollution control costs at the coal-fired plants retired between 2010 and 2020.
  • Electric sector emissions of carbon dioxide would fall by 82%.
  • Renewable energy, including wind, solar, and biomass, could increase throughout the nation, eventually providing 48% of the nation’s electricity requirements.
  • This scenario would cost more in the near term, but over the long term it would cost less than a business as usual energy future.


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