Wei Peng

( Assistant Professor of International Affairs and Civil and Environmental Engineering)

Coordinating air pollution and low-carbon electricity strategies in India for health and climate objectives.

What Graduate Undergraduate
When Oct 09, 2019
from 03:30 pm to 04:30 pm
Where 112 Walker Building, John J. Cahir Auditorium
Contact Name Ken Davis
Contact email
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Wei Peng PSU Civil Engr.

The electricity demand in India is projected to increase rapidly over the next two decades. How India meets this growing electricity demand could have significant effects on local air quality and human health, as well as the global climate challenge. On the one hand, the government has tightened the air pollutant emissions standards for coal-fired power plants since 2015, and the key challenge at present is how successful these policies are to be implemented. On the other hand, the increasing competitiveness of renewable energy and the government’s ambitious renewable energy targets may lead to a higher share of low-carbon energy in its future power mix.

Here we explore how different combinations of power sector strategies in India would affect future air quality, human health and CO2 emissions. We design a series of state-level scenarios from 2015-2040 with variations in: a) enforcement levels of conventional air pollution control policies, and b) scale of low-carbon investments. We adopt an integrated modeling approach that combines the GAINS (Greenhouse Gases - Air pollution Interactions and Synergies)-India model, regional air quality simulation based on WRF-CMAQ, and health impact assessment using relative risk functions from the Global Burden of Disease of study. We find that implementing existing air pollution control policies on coal power plants can drastically reduce future air pollutant emissions, ambient PM2.5 concentrations and associated mortality, although the magnitude of such benefits would largely depend on the level of enforcement and compliance. The additional health benefits would be small from increasing low-carbon energy share in the electricity mix, since coal plants with strict end-of-pipe controls already emit little air pollutants. However, deep cut in CO2 emissions is possible only with a shift towards low-carbon energy technologies such as wind and solar. Therefore, our results highlight the importance of coordinated air pollution and energy policy to simultaneously achieve air pollution, health and carbon mitigation goals in India.