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Title: Inequality in air pollution mortality from power generation in India

India’s coal-heavy electricity system is the world’s third largest and a major emitter of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Consequently, it remains a focus of decarbonization and air pollution control policy. Considerable heterogeneity exists between states in India in terms of electricity demand, generation fuel mix, and emissions. However, no analysis has disentangled the expected, state-level spatial differences and interactions in air pollution mortality under current and future power sector policies in India. We use a reduced-complexity air quality model to evaluate annual PM2.5mortalities associated with electricity production and consumption in each state in India. Furthermore, we test emissions control, carbon tax, and market integration policies to understand how changes in power sector operations affect ambient PM2.5concentrations and associated mortality. We find poorer, coal-dependent states in eastern India disproportionately face the burden of PM2.5mortality from electricity in India by importing deaths. Wealthier, high renewable energy states in western and southern India meanwhile face a lower burden by exporting deaths. This suggests that as these states have adopted more renewable generation, they have shifted their coal generation and associated PM2.5mortality to eastern areas. We also find widespread sulfur emissions control decreases mortality by about 50%. Likewise, increasing carbon taxes in the short term reduces annual mortality by up to 9%. Market reform where generators between states pool to meet demand reduces annual mortality by up to 8%. As India looks to increase renewable energy, implement emissions control regulations, establish a carbon trading market, and move towards further power market integration, our results provide greater spatial detail for a federally structured Indian electricity system.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
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Publisher / Repository:
IOP Publishing
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Environmental Research Letters
Page Range / eLocation ID:
Article No. 014005
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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