Clean energy innovation, coupled with policy incentives, could generate billions of dollars in economic benefit in the US, says a report by Google's philanphropic arm, Google.org.
But, just as importantly - as has been concluded by legions of similar reports - the US must act quickly to realize these economic benefits.
Google.org did the research as part of its missioin to use the power of information and technology to improve the world.
It starts by saying, "Our need for energy must be balanced against the often competing interests of the economy, environment, and national security. Clean, sustainable, safe, and secure sources of energy are needed to avoid long-term harm from geopolitical risks and global climate change.
Unless fully cost-competitive with fossil fuels, the adoption of clean technologies will either be limited or driven by policy. Innovation in clean energy technology is thus needed to reduce costs and maximize adoption.
But how far can energy innovation go towards meeting economic, environmental, and security needs?"
As a company committed to being climate neutral, and as an active investor and promoter of clean technologies, Google estimated the potential impact clean energy innovation could have on the US economy.
The major finding is that breakthroughs in clean technologies could grow the US economy by over $155 billion in GDP a year by 2030 without policy assistance, and $244 billion a year with comprehensive federal incentives.
The analysis assumes there will be aggressive cost breakthroughs in clean power generation, grid-storage, electric vehicle, and natural gas technologies.
They also looked at how those technologies would fare with and without supportive government policies.
Then they compared them to Business-as-Usual scenarios for the years 2030 and 2050.
- "Clean Policy": comprehensive federal incentives and mandates, called
- $30/ton Carbon Price Policy that only covers utilities
Compared to business-as-usual in 2030, aggressive energy innovation alone could have enormous potential to simultaneously, especially if comprehensive Clean Policies were implemented by government:
- Grow the US economy by over $155 billion in GDP/year ($244 billion with Clean Policy)
- Create over 1.1 million new jobs (1.9 million with Clean Policy)
- Save US citizens over $942/household/year ($995 with Clean Policy)
- Reduce US oil consumption by over 1.1 billion barrels/year
- Reduce US greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 13% (21% with Clean Policy)
By 2050, innovations in those technologies alone would reduce GHG emissions 55%-63% when combined with policy incentives -- while continuing positive economic and job growth.
"This analysis indicates that aggressive clean energy innovation could simultaneously help address the US' major long-term economic, environmental, and security goals," the report states.
But the US must act quickly to realize the greatest economic benefits.
A five year delay in implementing energy policy, for example, would result in $2.3 - 3.2 trillion in unrealized GDP, an aggregate 1.2 - 1.4 million unrealized jobs and 8-28 more gigatons of potential GHG emissions by 2050.
Read more: Google.org. Or read the full report: