Improving health and reducing costs through renewable energy in India

Elec­tric­i­ty gen­er­a­tion in India is still large­ly coal-based. In this sense, the pow­er sec­tor is an impor­tant con­trib­u­tor to ambi­ent air pol­lu­tion. At the same time, ambi­ent air pol­lu­tion has emerged as the sec­ond lead­ing health risk fac­tor in India, con­tribut­ing sig­nif­i­cant­ly to India’s bur­den of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases, chron­ic res­pi­ra­to­ry dis­eases and low­er res­pi­ra­to­ry tract infec­tions. In this con­text, this study assess­es the impact of ambi­ent air pol­lu­tion on human health in India. The report quan­ti­fies both the health and eco­nom­ic costs asso­ci­at­ed with PM2.5/PM10 expo­sure. It aims to assess the range of addi­tion­al ben­e­fits result­ing from a low-car­bon ener­gy tran­si­tion in India. The analy­sis first assess­es the impacts of ambi­ent air pol­lu­tion from all sec­tors of the Indi­an econ­o­my. It then quan­ti­fies the spe­cif­ic impact of the Indi­an pow­er sec­tor, assess­ing the health ben­e­fits of increased share of renew­ables in the Indi­an ener­gy and pow­er sec­tor. The eco­nom­ic sav­ings result­ing from improve­ments in air qual­i­ty are analysed based on three dif­fer­ent ener­gy scenarios.




Key policy opportunities:

Pol­i­cy oppor­tu­ni­ty  1: India can marked­ly improve the liveli­hoods of its cit­i­zens by reduc­ing ambi­ent air pol­lu­tion. In the busi­ness-as-usu­al sce­nario, dur­ing 2020 almost 500,000 peo­ple would die pre­ma­ture­ly due to expo­sure to par­tic­u­late mat­ter (PM10); this num­ber would rise to 600,000 pre­ma­ture deaths dur­ing 2030 and 830,000 dur­ing 2050. By mov­ing to the NDC PLUS path­way, more than 200,000 pre­ma­ture deaths could be avoid­ed in 2050.

Pol­i­cy oppor­tu­ni­ty 2: India can sig­nif­i­cant­ly cut eco­nom­ic loss­es by green­ing the econ­o­my and deploy­ing renew­able ener­gy sources. Fol­low­ing the busi­ness-as-usu­al path, eco­nom­ic loss­es relat­ed to health costs could increase from INR 4.6 tril­lion (USD 64.6 bil­lion ) in 2020 more than two-fold in 2030 and more than ten-fold to INR 47 tril­lion (USD 660.3 bil­lion) in 2050. How­ev­er, by fol­low­ing the NDC PLUS path­way, eco­nom­ic loss­es in 2050 could be reduced by as much as INR 12 tril­lion (USD 168.6 billion).

Pol­i­cy oppor­tu­ni­ty 3: India should con­sid­er build­ing and fol­low­ing even more ambi­tious ener­gy path­ways. Even the most far-reach­ing sce­nario pre­sent­ed in this report (NDC PLUS) is insuf­fi­cient­ly ambi­tious to pre­vent a 4.3 % reduc­tion in Indi­an GDP and an increase in pre­ma­ture deaths in 2050 com­pared with 2020 levels.



Year of pub­li­ca­tion: 2019

Edi­tors: David Jacobs, Ayo­de­ji Okun­lo­la, Lau­ra Nagel, Sebas­t­ian Hel­gen­berg­er, Aruni­ma Hakhu — IASS/IET/TERI

Tech­ni­cal imple­men­ta­tion: Dr. Anju Goel, Sou­vik Bhat­tacharya, Dr. Arindam Dut­ta, Mani June­ja, Rohan­shi Vaid, Dr. Isha Khan­na, Seema Kun­du, Nimish Singh and Var­sha Gup­ta – The Ener­gy and Resources Insti­tute (TERI)

Sug­gest­ed cita­tion: IASS/TERI. Improv­ing health and reduc­ing costs through renew­able ener­gy in India. Assess­ing the co-ben­e­fits of decar­bon­is­ing the pow­er sec­tor. Potsdam/New Del­hi: IASS/TERI, 2019.

DOI: 10.2312/iass.2019.021


This study is part of a 2019 series of three stud­ies assess­ing the co-ben­e­fits of decar­bon­is­ing the pow­er sec­tor in India, edit­ed by IASS, IET, TERI and UfU: