The rise in solar and wind power helped to prevent 12,700 premature deaths, a new study finds.
From 2007 to 2015, energy generation from solar and wind increased rapidly while fossil fuel price changes slashed overall electricity-sector emissions.
In the new study, the researchers evaluated the effect of solar and wind energy production on public health in the US over this time period.
This reduction in emissions helped the United States to make $30bn to $110bn from public health savings, largely due to a reduction in premature deaths, according to research published in the journal Nature Energy.
“We find cumulative wind and solar air-quality benefits of 2015 US$29.7–112.8 billion mostly from 3,000 to 12,700 avoided premature mortalities, and cumulative climate benefits of 2015 US$5.3–106.8 billion,” the researchers say.
Wind and solar energy production is thought to improve public health by reducing the need for combustion-based electricity which drives harmful air pollution.
Since 2007, levels of carbon dioxide in the air have fallen by 20%, sulphur dioxide by 72%, nitrogen oxide by 50% and small particles known as PM2.5 by 46%, the study finds.
This new study illustrates the wider benefits of ditching fossil fuels beyond simply limiting global warming.