Analysis of air quality and health co-benefits regarding electric vehicle promotion coupled with power plant emissions

Purpose of this study by Wen-Yinn Lin and colleagues is to discuss the electric vehicle policy’s effects on air pollution reduction in Taiwan. Since PM2.5 is one of Taiwan’s major air-pollution issues, Environmental Protection Administration of Taiwan (TEPA) promoted a policy that the sale of cars powered by fossil fuels would be banned in 2040, which means all the pollutants emitted by petrol-engine vehicles will be reduced. But at the same time the electric vehicles require additional power consumption, therefore, it is important to investigate the effect of air quality and health benefit when mobile emission reduces but power plant emission increases. 

To evaluate this clean air policy, Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF) - Community Multiscale Air Quality model (CMAQ) and Benefits Mapping and Analysis Program (BenMAP) were applied in scenarios discussion. The location of power plants to generate additional electric power and the seasonal variation were adapted in scenarios for considering the atmospheric transportation effects. The results showed if additional power supply was generated in northern, central, or southern Taiwan, the average annual PM2.5 concentration would be reduced by 2.88, 2.90, and 2.92 mg/m3 , respectively. The associated health benefits would be 43.35 billion, 43.40 billion, and 43.54 billion USD. This evaluation presents adopting electric vehicles would improve the air quality of Taiwan significantly. The analysis of seasonal scenarios also indicates the location to generate additional electric power is important when adopting electric vehicles policy. The prevailing wind of different season will transport the air pollutant to diverse downwind area. The additional electricity demand generated by northern power plants in summer and autumn but switched to southern power plants in spring and winter would reduce 2.95 mg/m3 PM2.5 and lead to the best air quality and health benefits across Taiwan among the considered options.

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