The Health Benefits of Solar Power Generation: Evidence from Chile
Environmental Defense Fund Economics Discussion Paper Series, EDF EDP 21-02
59 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2021 Last revised: 5 May 2021
Date Written: February 19, 2021
Renewable energy can yield social benefits through local air quality improvements and their subsequent effects on human health. We estimate some of these benefits using data gathered during the rapid adoption of large-scale solar power generation in Chile over the last decade. Relying on exogenous variation from incremental solar generation capacity over time, we find that solar energy displaces fossil fuel generation (primarily coal-fired generation) and curtails hospital admissions, particularly those due to lower respiratory diseases. These effects are noted mostly in cities downwind of displaced fossil fuel generation and are present across all age groups. Our results document the existence of an additional channel through which renewable energy can increase social welfare.
Keywords: Coal-fired power plants, coal displacement, solar generation, power plants, pollution, morbidity, developing countries, Latin America
JEL Classification: I18, L94, Q42, Q53
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