Replacing coal with solar power would save American lives and money, according to a new study.
"If we're rational and we care about American lives -- or even just money -- then it's time to end coal in the U.S.," said study co-author Joshua Pearce. He is an associate professor of materials science and electrical engineering at Michigan Technological University.
Tens of thousands of Americans die early due to health issues linked to air pollution. Michigan Tech researchers calculated the human toll of burning coal along with the possible benefits of switching to solar power.
They analyzed regional electric costs and calculated the number of U.S. deaths per kilowatt hour each year for coal as well as solar power. They also estimated the potential return on investment of solar installations using U.S. Department of Energy data.
The study found that if the United States transitioned from coal to solar photovoltaics (PV), nearly 52,000 lives would be saved with an investment of $1.1 million per life.