The health benefits of solar power generation: Evidence from Chile

Peer Reviewed
1 July 2024

Nathaly M. Rivera, J. Cristobal Ruiz-Tagle, Elisheba Spiller


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 solar irradiation and incremental solar generation capacity over time, we find that solar energy displaces coal generation and curtails hospital admissions due to respiratory diseases. These effects are largely manifested in cities downwind of and near coal plants that are displaced by the introduction of new solar. The reduction in exposure to air pollution from these displaced coal plants seems to be driving this relationship. Our results help quantify the health benefits that can be achieved through greater renewable energy investments.

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Sustainable Development Goals
Publication reference
Rivera, N. M., Ruiz-Tagle, J. C., & Spiller, E. (2024). The health benefits of solar power generation: Evidence from Chile. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 126, 102999.
Publication | 8 July 2024