The mortality impacts of current and planned coal-fired power plants in India

Maureen Cropper, Ryna Cui, Sarath Guttikunda, Nate Hultman, Puja Jawahar, Yongjoon Park, Xinlu Yao, Xiao Peng Song

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23 Scopus citations


We examine the health implications of electricity generation from the 2018 stock of coal-fired power plants in India, as well as the health impacts of the expansion in coal-fired generation capacity expected to occur by 2030. We estimate emissions of SO2, NOX, and particulate matter 2.5 μm (PM2.5) for each plant and use a chemical transport model to estimate the impact of power plant emissions on ambient PM2.5. Concentration-response functions from the 2019 Global Burden of Disease (GBD) are used to project the impacts of changes in PM2.5 on mortality. Current plus planned plants will contribute, on average, 13% of ambient PM2.5 in India. This reflects large absolute contributions to PM2.5 in central India and parts of the Indo-Gangetic plain (up to 20 μg/m3). In the south of India, coal-fired power plants account for 20–25% of ambient PM2.5. We estimate 112,000 deaths are attributable annually to current plus planned coal-fired power plants. Not building planned plants would avoid at least 844,000 premature deaths over the life of these plants. Imposing a tax on electricity that reflects these local health benefits would incentivize the adoption of renewable energy.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2017936118
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 2 2021


  • Air pollution
  • Cobenefits of renewables
  • Electricity from coal
  • India


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