From Science Daily:

Policymakers, industry and government officials will have to invest US $2.5 trillion for electricity generation over the next 20 years. A new UNEP report presents the environmental costs and benefits linked to different renewable energy sources, and makes one thing abundantly clear: anything is better than coal.

If it’s green, it’s mostly clean, according to a new, comprehensive review of renewable energy sources released today by the International Resource Panel, hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The report, “Green Energy Choices: The Benefits, Risks and Trade-Offs of Low-Carbon Technologies for Electricity Production,” takes a cradle-to-grave look at the environmental and health pros-and-cons of nine different renewable sources of energy. It is the first such comprehensive international report to do so.

While the report is filled with important details of the benefits and impacts of different energy choices, the bottom line is clear, says report co-author Thomas Gibon, a PhD candidate at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s (NTNU) Industrial Ecology Programme.

“Moving away from fossil fuels and coal will help us avoid a lot of environmental impacts, particularly from air pollution and greenhouse gases,” Gibon says.

And the difference is considerable, the report says: electricity from renewable sources emits between 90-99 percent less greenhouse gases than coal-fired plants, and causes 70-90 percent less pollution.

Gibon’s PhD research formed the underpinnings for the report’s analyses.

Pointing out problems to avoid them

Perhaps the most important message in the report is the most obvious: continuing with business as usual…

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