A landscape view of wind turbines, an increasingly popular source for renewable energy, on a farm.

In recent years, renewable energy sources have gained traction in markets around the world due to dramatic drops in the costs of technologies used to produce wind and solar energy. This price drop, paired with policies that have encouraged renewable energies, have played a crucial role in spurring progress to reduce carbon emissions.

EPIC researchers are studying various renewable energy policies to ensure they not only deliver emissions reductions, but also do so at the lowest possible price for consumers and taxpayers. Finding low-cost ways to reduce carbon emissions is critical to addressing climate change, as these policies can be deployed more aggressively than other, costly approaches.

This EPIC research is adding important insights to the national and international conversation. For example, as the Biden administration plans to expand U.S. transmission lines with funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act 2021, EPIC scholars have found that grid expansion increases renewable energy generation and levels out electricity costs. The study also shows that the investments are quickly paid back due to the long-run benefits to the environment and people’s health, particularly in the form of reduced air pollution.

Further, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 contained about $370 billion in clean energy spending, the bulk of which are tax credits toward renewable sources like solar and wind. EPIC scholars have found that such tax credits may be even more efficient than a carbon price, reducing carbon emissions while also lowering electricity prices. A separate EPIC analysis found the climate benefits from clean energy tax credits are about four times the costs.