Renewable Energy Prevented 12,700 Premature Deaths Over Nine-Year Period, Study Says

A wind and solar project in Palm Springs, California.

A wind and solar project in Palm Springs, California. Kevork Djansezian/Getty

The expansion of wind and solar energy, and the resulting avoided emissions from fossil fuels, helped prevent up to 12,700 premature deaths in the U.S. from 2007 to 2015, according a new study in the journal Nature Energy.

Because renewables do not release pollutants that cause respiratory and cardiac problems, the growth of wind and solar power helped the U.S. save as much as $220 billion from improved air quality, avoided health care costs, and fewer sick days, the study found. Stronger regulations on fossil fuel emissions and shifting energy markets also contributed to the health and financial savings, the study said. The research was conducted by scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

As the news site Quartz points out, the U.S. spent $50 billion to $80 billion in subsidies for the two industries during the same period. “Even on the lower end of the benefits and higher end of subsidies, just the health and climate benefits of renewable energy return about half of taxpayers’ money,” writes Quartz.