New Delhi: Widespread adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) with robust power plant emission controls and power sector decarbonization policies will yield net air quality and health benefits in every state in India in 2040, as per the latest study by International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) and the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IIT Kanpur).
The study estimates vehicle and power sector emissions, air quality, premature mortality, and avoided health damages in India under an ambitious EV sales scenario between 2020 and 2040, with and without robust power sector emission control and decarbonization strategies.
The insight comes from considering the case even under the conservative assumption that the additional power demand from EVs is met entirely by fossil fuel power plants.
Anup Bandivadekar, India Lead, ICCT said, “Indisputably, there are benefits from decarbonizing the electricity grid and improving power plant emission controls, and we see those policies are valuable irrespective of the level of vehicle electrification.”
Findings for 2030 and 2040 suggest that stricter emission control strategies tend to be more effective at avoiding premature deaths than ambitious decarbonization strategies.
Importantly, though, the benefits are largely additive- combining the two strategies maximizes the benefits of EVs and brings improved air quality in every Indian state in 2040 compared to the baseline in 2040. This results in as many as 70,380 avoided premature deaths, equivalent to avoided health costs of up to $80.7 billion (2020 U.S. dollars) in 2040 alone, the study said.
Arijit Sen, associate researcher, ICCT and the study’s lead author said, “The idea that electrification without cleaning up the grid would backfire in terms of air quality is largely untrue. These findings highlight the societal benefits of EVs, and they can be maximized not by delaying electrification, but when policies for power sector emission control and decarbonization are implemented in parallel with vehicle electrification strategies.”
Mukesh Sharma, professor at IIT Kanpur and co-author of the study said, “EVs are the future, but we must be careful about the transition phase and source of energy for charging the EVs. Our simulations on air quality show stringent emission controls at power plants and their decarbonization in a phased manner is the way forward.”
The study said it has taken the national and gridded emissions output data from various vehicle and power sector scenarios to generate national and state level air quality values using the WRF-Chem model, particularly focused on fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentration.
In 2030 and 2040, there are PM2.5 concentration decreases for all scenarios, which indicates improved air quality nationally. At the state level, barring a slight worsening in air quality in Ladakh that is within model error tolerance, air quality improves or is steady for all states in all 2030 and 2040 scenarios compared to baseline of the same year, it said.
ICCT is an independent nonprofit organization working to improve the environmental performance and energy efficiency of road, marine, and air transportation.