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Modeling Air Quality and Health Benefits for Southeast Asia’s Electricity Sector Under AIMS III Scenario Webinar

20 Oct 2022

ASEAN Centre for Energy (ACE), in collaboration with United States Agency for International Development (USAID), National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and University of Minnesota, had successfully organized webinar with title Modeling Air Quality and Health Benefits for Southeast Asia’s Electricity Sector Under AIMS III Scenario”. The webinar is part of the launch event from a completed report of the augmented ASEAN Interconnection Masterplan Study (AIMS) III study on air quality entitled “Quantifying Impacts of Renewable Electricity Deployment on Air Quality and Human Health in Southeast Asia Based on AIMS III Scenarios”.

The report explained the analysis of grid scenarios from the AIMS III which estimate emissions from coal, gas, and diesel plants; the particulate matter concentration that results from those power generation emissions; and potential premature mortality from long-term exposure to particulate matter. The event also identifies the scenario yielding the greatest health benefits for ASEAN citizens and other recommendations on how to reduce the air pollution burden from the power sector in Southeast Asia. The event was held virtually on 20 October 2022.

(Photo caption: Mr. Beni Suryadi, Manager of Power, Fossil Fuel, Alternative Energy and Storage (PFS) Department, Mr. Gavin Hearth, NREEL, Megan Mercer, SEASIA Edgehub, Prof. Jason Hill from the University of Minnesota (Advanced Energy Partnership for Asia), Ms. Radin Diana R. Ahmad, TNB Research).

Opening Remark

Ms. Prathibha Juturu, Program Coordinator of USAID RDMA (Regional Development Mission for Asia), started the event with welcoming remark. She addressed that the event is a series that is supported by USAID to share the best practice to enable competitive markets for clean energy technologies across Southeast Asia. It was followed by Ms. Karin Wadsack, NREL, elaborating the background of the event to raise the importance of power development planning and its relation to air quality in Southeast Asia.

Mr. Beni Suryadi, Manager of Power, Fossil Fuel, Alternative Energy and Storage ACE, then introduced about ACE as intergovernmental organization that covering a wide range of topics on energy,  AIMS III and the intercorrelation between environmental and human health. Prof. Jason Hill from the University of Minnesota (Advanced Energy Partnership for Asia), concluded the opening remarks by introducing about the air quality model map that has been developed in United State and its various applications in many sectors.

Presentation Session

Mr Garvin Heath, PhD, distinguished member research staff of NREL, discussed about the air quality study on the AIMS III. The study has purposed to inform regional planning and policy makers and regulatory decision makers. It is also to raise awareness of the model’s capabilities for future decision-relevant studies. The background of the study is that air pollution from stationary sources, particularly from thermal power plants, is considered as the 4th leading cause of death globally and highest environmental risk factor.

Based on the result of this study, all scenarios lead to increase in PM2.5 ( fine particulate matter which has been found to be the most health damaging air pollutant) concentration due to increase of generation, especially coal/gas. Compared to the AIMS III Base Scenario, the high renewable energy (RE) scenario decreases PM2.5 concentration. In Optimum RE, ASEAN RE Target, and High RE Target, it is resulted that the percentage of the population breathing cleaner air relative to base scenario are 91%, 34%, and 99% respectively. Meanwhile, at base scenario, all scenarios lead to increase in PM2.5 – caused annual mortality with greatest increase in Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Meanwhile, all the alternative AIMS III scenarios leads to decrease in regional PM2.5 – caused annual mortality. For the high RE Target scenario, all countries have the benefits, but a few countries experience in increase of PM2.5 – caused annual mortality under Optimum RE scenario (Thailand), and ASEAN RE Target scenario (Thailand and Vietnam). This is concluded that the power sector is one of major source of air pollution in Southeast Asia, therefore the air pollution of power sector must be a concern.

The High RE scenarios can be a solution due to reductions in mortality, compared to base scenarios. The vast majority of the population in of citizens in the ASEAN countries would breathe cleaner air under the ASEAN RE renewable energy target. What he pointed out is that the more we emitted pollutants, the more we have increasing mortality. High RE target scenario is a benefit for all countries because it clearly showed that high renewable energy target provides the greatest number of reduced annual deaths.

He concluded stating that as the power sector is an important source of air pollution in Southeast Asia, projected increase in demand can lead to opportunities to reduce impacts of air pollution from cleaner sources. In the AIMS III project on doubling of generation by 2040 , most of increase in demand for generation was supplied by coal. Alternative AIMS III cause net reduction in Mortality.

More about the finding of the study can be found in the fact sheet.

Commentary

Mr. Beni Suryadi, commented about the value of using air quality modelling to support decision making for advanced energy planning. Air quality modelling can be powerful measure to quantify the use of renewable energy policy. The bad air quality can lead to bad health; therefore, it can be utilised as a tool to communicate to the policy makers and talk about the key scenario while fulfilling the demand of energy electricity. The result of the air quality modelling could also inform the decision makers and regulators to find potential technology to reduce health impacts.

Ms. Radin Diana R. Ahmad, TNB (Tenaga Nasional Berhad) Research, commented about the benefits for utilities from the report and training activities. The focus of this report is the assessment development and improvement of the air quality models. By this report and training activities, the stakeholders can develop and evaluate the emission from power plant to meet air quality standards. It can be used to predict the alternative solutions for the facility to make decision in certain case and also increase in the public health with air pollution.

(AHA/ZMT)

Read the full report here.

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