The economic benefits versus environmental costs of India’s coal-fired power plants | Geoffrey Barrows
Geoffrey Barrows of Ecole Polytechnique will discuss his paper The Economic Benefits versus Environmental Costs of India’s Coal-Fired Power Plants.
Developing countries characterized by increasing electricity demand face a dilemma: fossil-fuel fired generation is cheap and reliable yet has substantial environmental consequences.
Using a difference-in-differences approach comparing locations close to versus far away from coal-fired power plants in India, we show that increases in coal-fired capacity result in sizable increases in local air pollution levels and infant mortality, with no corresponding increase from non-coal based electricity generation. In contrast, using data on district-level GDP, manufacturing sales, agricultural outcomes, and night time luminosity, we find that coal-fired capacity increases have relatively small statistically insignificant impacts on local economic benefits, though we do find benefits of state-wide electricity generation capacity. Combined, our results indicate that the environmental costs of coal-fired power plants vary substantially over space while the economic benefits from these plants are distributed across the state.