Study: Renewables Would Have Biggest Impact On Health In The Great Lakes Region

Nov 7, 2019

Credit Courtesy Environmental Research Letters "Climate and health benefits of increasing renewable energy deployment in the United States"

The Great Lakes region is the best place in the U.S. to put renewable energy sources to get the most health benefits, according to a new study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

The study looked at how much air pollution renewables could reduce based on what each region of the U.S. is using to generate electricity.

Jonathan Buonocore co-authored the study. He says because Great Lakes states produce a lot of coal power, putting wind and solar in a state like Indiana would reduce more air pollution than putting them in a state like California that has more renewables and natural gas.

“Location really matters and including health in any type of climate policy assessment is really important," Buonocore says.

The biggest pollutant that renewable energy sources would reduce in the Great Lakes region is particulate matter.

“The health benefits you can see from less of that include lower risk of death, lower risk of respiratory cardiovascular hospitalization, lower risk of stroke,” Buonocore says.

Buonocore says by replacing current energy sources with solar alone, the Great Lakes region could receive benefits equal to $113 per megawatt hour.

Contact Rebecca at rthiele@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @beckythiele.

Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.