• April 17, 2024
  • Category

In order to understand the beneficial impact of Solar Energy on Health and the Environment, we need to first draw a perspective over the cause-effect relationship while understanding the economic impact of one of the most crucial effect ‘air pollution’ due to human activities in set geographies – Taking India in this study as geography.

Let us first understand ‘what is at stake’ in order to get a lucid picture of the solution.

What is the health bill on India’s pocket due to air pollution?

1.67 million people died in India in the year 2019 alone, due to pollution-related illnesses according to the journal Lancet.

The estimated health care cost in India in 2019 was $103.7 billion, with air pollution accounting for 11.5% of the overall disease quanta costing around $11.9 billion.

The growing financial loss due to Air pollution can deter India’s ambitious goal to become a $5Trillion economy.

As reported in the Global Burden Disease Study 2019, premature deaths and morbidity caused by air pollution resulted in economic losses of $28.8 billion and $8 billion in India in 2019. In total, India lost $36.8 billion, or 1.36% of its GDP.

Exposure to air pollution in India by states

Benefits of Solar Energy to Health and Environment

What is Solar Energy and how it is beneficial for health and the environment?

Solar Energy often gets its definition from the PV effect (photovoltaic effect), which works on the principle of converting sunlight into electricity with the help of solar PV modules.

Let’s look at a Carbon brief of Solar Energy as compared to coal-based power:

As we can see the operational life of a solar power plant is 25 years and due to a significantly low operational carbon footprint, gives an added list of benefits to solar energy as below:

Protects air quality by harnessing the sun’s energy rather than burning fossil fuels. The use of PV panels and concentrating mirrors does not emit greenhouse gases or sulfur dioxide or nitrogen oxides.
Mitigation of climate change: Solar energy emits 27g of CO2 equivalent per kWh (concentrated), 41g (roof), and 48g (utility) of CO2 equivalent per kWh compared to 820g per kWh for coal. By reducing CO2 emissions, global climate change symptoms such as increasing temperatures, rising sea levels, melting sea ice, changing precipitation patterns, and ocean acidification are reduced.
Our nation’s energy independence will help us become more self-sufficient by being able to produce our own electricity without relying on foreign countries.
Since renewable energy employs 11.5 million people worldwide in 2019, this number is likely to increase. As we realize how beneficial renewable energy is to the environment, renewable energy jobs will continue to grow.

What are the environmental challenges of Solar power plants?

The scale of land degradation and habitat loss depends on site topography, technology, and solar resource intensity. In order to minimize negative environmental impacts, large-scale solar farms can be built on abandoned land and small-scale farms can be built on top of buildings or homes.
Water is used to construct PV components and to cool CSPs. To reduce water consumption, wet-recirculating, once-through, and dry-cooling methods are used.
PV cells are manufactured with hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, hydrogen fluoride, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, and acetone. In the event that they are not handled and disposed of properly, they could pose a serious risk to the environment and public health. Laws are in place to prevent this from happening.
Environmental drawbacks can be mitigated through proper siting and disposal methods.

How do we calculate benefits per KWh cost on health due to poor air quality?

In order to calculate the benefits of renewables per KWh on health, a general tool Benefits per kilowatt hour (BPK) is been used. We will see how BPK can be used to quantify the economic value of health care savings thanks to avoided emissions from energy efficiency (EE)  and renewable energy (RE).

To determine the BPK values, we need to assess the impact that reducing fossil-fueled generation would have on criteria pollutants. The EPA then linked the criteria pollutant emissions reductions to health benefits and the resulting avoided costs associated with lost productivity, hospital admissions and other impacts.
The methodology for determining the annual cents-per-kWh health benefits is based on the following steps:
Estimate changes in fossil fuel-based electricity generation due to representative EE/RE projects, programs and policies.
Estimate changes in air pollution emissions (NOx, SO2 and PM2.5) due to changes in fossil fuel-based generation.
Assess the impact of changes in emissions on ambient concentrations of air pollution.
Estimate changes in public health impacts due to changes in ambient concentrations of air pollution.
Estimate the monetary value of changes in public health impacts.
Divide the monetized public health benefits by the change in a generation to determine the health benefits in cents per kWh.

A layer of cake benefits from electric energy efficiency.

Let’s calculate the BPK by taking a 100MW utility-scale Renewable Energy facility – To start, we need to calculate the annualised capital cost of 100 MW of utility-scale wind and solar. Those cost numbers work as $20.2 million for wind and $12.2 million for solar.

Further while comparing these costs with the BPK health benefits in the context of wind and solar replacing fossil fuel electricity. The results bring substantial monetary health benefits as below.

A layer of cake benefits from electric energy efficiency

The calculations for the Southeast and Midwest regions document health benefits of $2.1 million to $17.5 million per year from wind power and $1.7 million to $12.7 million from solar. This assessment demonstrates that the annual health benefits that accrue from using renewable energy instead of fossil fuel energy substantially defray (from a societal perspective) the costs of renewable energy.

Is solar energy good for the environment?

From the above-stated analysis, it is perhaps confirmative to conclude that Renewable Energy electricity sources are definitely having a monetary benefit when it comes to health deterioration caused by pollution through fossil fuel electricity, some quick benefits to conduce of using Solar Energy are as below:

  • Mitigates air pollution
  • Less Water usage
  • Slows down climate change
  • Reduces consumption of fossil fuels
  • Reduces carbon footprint

What are you waiting for? Go solar now! How Waaree can help?

Waaree Energies Ltd. is the flagship company of Waaree Group, founded in 1989 with headquarters in Mumbai, India. It has India’s largest Solar panel manufacturing capacity of 5GWs at its plants in Surat and Umbergaon in Gujarat. Waaree Energies is amongst the top players in India in Solar Panel Manufacturing, EPC Services, Project Development, Rooftop Solutions, and Solar Water Pumps and is also an Independent Power Producer. Waaree has its presence in over 380 locations nationally and 20 countries internationally. Step on to your cleaner journey by contacting us at 18002121321 or mail us at waaree@waaree.com

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