The smog in Beijing is often very bad. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), smog causes around 1.6 million premature deaths in China each year and 7 million premature deaths worldwide.
Major air pollution can cause lung disease and stroke, and these numbers also highlight that reducing smog and employing a cleaner energy solution is imperative.
In the context, researchers from the Climate Policy group at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich have published a new study in the journal PLOS One. The researchers stated that completely eliminating emissions from the sectors like power, industry, transport and household could allow solar PV systems in China to produce nearly 160 terawatts per year of extra energy by 2040.
Mercè Labordena, Renewable energy researcher and lead author on the study stated that China was the world leader in installing solar photovoltaics and at the same time the country was also suffering from air pollution. It is reported that the country’s air pollution stems from the burning of fossil fuels especially coal. China has taken some strides in dealing with the air pollution problem. However, there is still room for improvement.
Labordena and her colleagues reportedly used a climate model and simulated to show how much more sun the country’s solar panels would see in the case the government implemented policies to curb air pollution. She reiterated that the provinces in the region would benefit most from cleaning up the air.
Meanwhile, the study has reportedly been the first to put a dollar figure on the financial benefits of improved solar productivity. And, China would have to spend between $50 and $70 billion to curb its air pollution. On the one hand, limiting the amount of particulate matter streaming out of power plants is a partial solution, and the other such technologies are expensive and also require power to run.
The problem of air pollution is not just restricted to China. Major cities like Delhi and Singapore also experience the effects of smog according to a study led by MIT research scientist Ian Marius Peters, who specializes in photovoltaics. Peters reiterates that if the world increasingly adopted solar, the panels themselves would trigger a positive feedback loop. And, he explained that more solar would lead to cleaner air and more generation of energy via solar panels leading to decreasing reliance on coal.