Solar power is appealing for many reasons; it creates jobs, helps localities and states to develop economically, and lowers the cost of power over time. However, its greatest benefit is that it renders fossil fuel generated electricity unnecessary. Burning fossil fuels for power has a deadly cost, so solar power does and will save lives—but how can we quantify this benefit?
A 2016 study, as part of the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Sunshot Initiative, took aim at this question. The Sunshot Initiative’s goal is to drive down the costs of installed solar power to 6 cents a kilowatt and, in turn, expand solar power use to comprise greater shares of the US electricity supply: 14 percent by 2030 and 27 percent by 2050.
Even though the Sunshot Initiative has only recently begun, the benefits are already beginning to be noted. Some of the effects we are already experiencing from installed, operational solar power are described in the chart below: