This article originally appeared on the website DU Clarion, under the title Green Development LLC: Understanding the Severe Health Costs of Fossil Fuels

In recent years, private industries and government entities have placed a heavy emphasis on “going green.” This effort is in response to the significant health costs of fossil fuels. Below, Green Development LLC, a leader in renewable energy projects, explains why the U.S. is dependent on fossil fuels and how that dependence is costing us millions of dollars in combined social and health effects.

What Are Fossil Fuels?

Before we can get into the health costs of fossil fuels, it is important to understand exactly what they are and why they can be harmful. Simply put, fossil fuels are natural fuels that form from the remains of living organisms. The formation of these fuels takes millennia, making them a non-renewable, finite resource.

Since they are found deep beneath Earth’s surface, obtaining these fuels is a costly and time-consuming endeavor. Even after they are retrieved, they are not immediately ready for use.

Why Is the United States Dependent on Fossil Fuels?

For decades, the United States has relied on a combination of foreign and domestic fossil fuels. While using these fuels from any source is incredibly costly, reliance on foreign fuel sources is especially troublesome. This fuel has to be shipped thousands of miles to our ports, which amplifies the health costs.

Dependence on foreign fossil fuels is not only costly in terms of health, but it can put the nation at the mercy of foreign powers. These security concerns make green energy increasingly appealing to government entities and industrial organizations.

Fossil Fuels vs. Green Energy: Counting the Cost

In the early days of green energy, major fossil fuel companies argued that the costs outweighed any potential benefits. While some of the first renewable energy technologies were extremely costly, this is no longer the case. Recent advancements in wind and solar technology have drastically reduced the cost of components, closing the gap between electricity produced with green energy and fossil fuels.

In fact, a December 2020 report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimated the average costs of producing electricity from solar and onshore wind to be the lowest of all energy sources—below natural gas, nuclear, and offshore wind—in many parts of the world, including the United States, Europe, and China. In the U.S., that translates to $39/MWh for onshore wind and $44/MWh for solar, as compared to $45/MWh for electricity produced by combined cycle gas turbines (natural gas).

Direct and Indirect Health Costs of Fossil Fuels

The health impacts of burning fossil fuels are not simply an arbitrary concept. The Harvard Chan School of Public Health lists early death, heart attacks, respiratory disorders, stroke, exacerbation of asthma, and absenteeism at school and work as some of the effects of the pollution caused by our use of fossil fuels. In a 2018 report, the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air assigned a firm numerical value to the cost of burning fossil fuels.

The annual combined economic and health costs of burning fossil fuels totaled approximately $2.9 trillion in 2018. This was calculated by compiling the cost of absences from work, years of life lost, and early deaths. This cost breaks down to approximately $8 billion per day. Expressed another way, the cost of burning fossil fuels is equivalent to 3.3% of the global GDP.

As you can see, the costs of burning fossil fuels are rapidly becoming untenable. Fortunately, the decreased costs of producing green energy and ever-improving renewable technologies provide hope. Green Development LLC is dedicated to leveraging these new developments to provide Rhode Island corporations with affordable green energy.

About Green Development

Green Development LLC is the leading developer of utility-scale renewable energy projects in Rhode Island, specializing in wind power, solar power, and battery storage. The company delivers significant energy savings to municipalities, quasi-public entities, nonprofits, and other qualified entities through the virtual net metering program while providing long-term lease payments to landowners and farmers.

Since 2009, Green Development has been instrumental in transforming the energy mix in Rhode Island to clean, reliable energy. The company has developed more than 75MW in solar and wind capacity, with plans to add 70 MW in 2021. Current wind and solar sites reduce carbon emissions equivalent to using 8,091,141 gallons of gas each year. Green Development is devoted to preserving farmland, reducing water and air pollution, increasing energy security, and creating local jobs.

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