Assessing the Environmental-Health-Economic Co-Benefits from Solar Electricity and Thermal Heating in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Hooman Farzaneh, Mehrnoosh Dashti, Eric Zusman, So Young Lee, Damdin Dagvadorj, Zifei Nie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article quantifies the environmental, health, and economic co-benefits from the use of solar electricity and heat generation in the Ger area (a sub-district of traditional residences and private houses) in Ulaanbaatar (UB), Mongolia. The quantification of the featured co-benefits is based on calculating emissions reductions from the installation of the solar photovoltaic (PV) and solar water heaters. A user-friendly spreadsheet tool is developed to shed much-needed light on the steps involved in estimating these co-benefits. The tool simulates the hourly electricity and thermal energy generation, taking into account local meteorological conditions, local geographical data, and technical specifications of the solar power and heat generation systems. The tool is then employed to evaluate two intervention scenarios: (1) Installing 100 MW solar electricity, including both rooftop PV and community grids, to reduce the peak-load burden on the grid; (2) Providing solar thermal heaters for 20,000 households to replace the heating load demand from the existing heat only boilers (HOBs) in UB. The modelling results reveal a significant reduction in GHG emissions and fine particulate matter (PM2.5 ) (PM that is 2.5 microns or less in diameter) by 311,000 tons and 767 tons, respectively, as well as nearly 6500 disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) and an annual saving of USD 7.7 million for the local economy. The article concludes that the mainstreaming spreadsheet-based estimation tools like the one used in this article into decision-making processes can fill important research gaps (e.g., usability of assessment tools) and help translate co-benefits analyses into action in Mongolia and beyond.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6931
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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