Solar, wind could save the US $7 billion in fossil-fuel costs

As much as $7 billion could be saved if the high levels of wind and solar power generated in the U.S. were incorporated into the country’s electricity grid, according to research by the NREL.

In a statement released on Tuesday by the Colorado-based research arm of the U.S. Energy Department, they argued that it costs more to switch fossil-fueled power stations on and off in response to the intermittent nature of renewable energy than it would do to simply add wind and solar power to the grid.

Cycling between coal and gas plants saves anything from $35 million to $157 million, the NREL says, but those savings would shoot up to $7 billion if renewable sources were properly integrated into that system.

"Avoided fuel costs are far greater than the increased cycling costs for fossil-fueled plants," said Debra Lew, the NREL researcher who led the study, which ran evaluated scenarios whereby as much as one-third of the U.S. grid’s total electricity came from solar and wind sources.

?Their findings revealed that over 4 MWh of renewable power displace 1 MWh of coal power, and 3 MWh of gas.