Quantifying Impacts of Renewable Electricity Deployment on Air Quality and Human Health in Southeast Asia Based on Aims III Scenarios

Vikram Ravi, Sumil Thakrar, Garvin Heath, Akbar Wahyono, Beni Suryadi, Greg Avery, Jason Hill

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Exposure to outdoor air pollution is the largest environmental risk factor for death and disease worldwide, associated with millions of cases of excess deaths (mortality) each year. Although there are many pollutants in the air that affect our health, the most important class of pollutants is fine particulate matter, PM2.5, which are airborne particles of diameter =2.5 micrometers (um). These particles are small enough to deposit deep in the respiratory system where they can then enter the bloodstream, traveling and causing damage to other bodily systems. Exposure to outdoor (ambient) PM2.5 has been found to be the most important environmental risk factor for mortality in Southeast Asia, associated with 130,000 - 320,000 excess deaths in Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries in 2019. Southeast Asia, especially its mega-cities, but also other areas, has some of the worst air quality in the world. Almost all human activity emits air pollutants. Fine particulate matter is both directly emitted and formed in the atmosphere through chemical reactions, the latter of which requires modeling to predict. Power generation is one of the major sources of air pollutants that lead to elevated concentrations of fine particulate matter, including in Southeast Asia. Fossil fuel combustion for power generation, especially coal but also diesel, is the main source of air pollutant emissions from power generation. While natural gas burns cleaner than coal or diesel, in the quantities combusted for power generation in Southeast Asia, it is also a significant emitter. This study augments the ASEAN Interconnection Masterplan Study III (AIMS III) by quantifying changes to air quality and human health that result from its renewable integration and transmission interconnection scenarios. Performing this analysis requires translation of the changes in projected generation from different power sector fuel sources in the AIMS III scenarios to changes in air pollutant emissions, developing what's known as an emissions inventory for each scenario and year evaluated. We then use for the first time a new global, reduced-complexity air quality model to transform the changes in emissions to changes in air pollutant concentration of the deadliest air pollutant for human health, fine particulate matter (or PM2.5). The air quality model, Global InMAP, then utilizes the location of human population in ASEAN countries to calculate exposure to PM2.5 concentration changes and translates that to estimates of excess mortality attributable to the AIMS III scenarios.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages84
StatePublished - 2022

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-6A20-83832


  • air quality
  • ASEAN Interconnection Masterplan Study
  • public health
  • renewables deployment


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