The costs of replacing coal plant jobs with local instead of distant wind and solar jobs across the United States

iScience. 2022 Aug 10;25(8):104817. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2022.104817. eCollection 2022 Aug 19.

ABSTRACT

To further a just energy transition, jobs lost at retiring coal plants could be replaced by jobs at wind and solar plants. No research quantifies the feasibility and costs of such an undertaking across the United States. Complicating such an undertaking are workers’ place-based preferences that could prevent them from moving long distances, e.g. to high renewable resource regions. We formulate a bottom-up optimization model to quantify the technical feasibility and costs of replacing coal plant jobs with local versus distant jobs in the renewables sector. For the contiguous United States, we find replacing coal generation and employment with local wind and solar investments is feasible. Siting renewables local to instead of distant from retiring coal plants increases replacement costs by 5%-33% across sub-national regions and by $83 billion, or 24%, across the United States. These costs are modest relative to overall energy transition costs.

PMID:36039360 | PMC:PMC9418681 | DOI:10.1016/j.isci.2022.104817

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