Press Release

Electricity Storage and GHG Emissions

Sep 7, 2016

WASHINGTON—The world is increasingly banking on renewable energy. Innovation in large-scale power storage is expected to reduce costs and improve performance for electricity providers. One important question, however, has not fully been answered: What effect will improved storage technology have on the use of renewable energy and on greenhouse gas emissions?

Now, a new paper by researchers from Resources for the Future (RFF) takes a novel look at that issue.

In Does Electricity Storage Innovation Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions? RFF Senior Fellow Joshua Linn and RFF Fellow Jhih-Shyang Shih analyze the effects of storage costs on emissions. They conclude that the effect of storage costs on emissions depends on the responsiveness of renewables and fossil-powered generation. Under typical conditions in the United States, lower storage costs are more likely to reduce emissions when wind investment responds to electricity prices and when solar investment does not.

The researchers also find that for coal and natural gas-fired generation, introducing a carbon dioxide emissions price may increase the likelihood that lower storage costs also will reduce emissions. The authors note, however, that “policy makers seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have demonstrated a preference for subsidizing low-emitting technologies rather than fully pricing emissions.”

Read the full paper: Does Electricity Storage Innovation Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions?

Resources for the Future does not take institutional positions. Please attribute any findings to the authors or the research itself. For example, use "According to research from RFF …" rather than "According to RFF …".

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Resources for the Future (RFF) is an independent, nonpartisan organization based in Washington, DC, that conducts rigorous economic research and analysis to improve environmental and natural resource policy.