The potential of industrial electricity savings to reduce air pollution from coal-fired power generation in China

Yue, H, Worrell, E, Crijns-Graus, W, & Zhang, S. ORCID: (2021). The potential of industrial electricity savings to reduce air pollution from coal-fired power generation in China. Journal of Cleaner Production 301 e126978. 10.1016/j.jclepro.2021.126978.

[thumbnail of 1-s2.0-S0959652621011975-main.pdf]
1-s2.0-S0959652621011975-main.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (2MB) | Preview


Coal-intensive power supply systems, along with a fast-growing electricity demand driven by industry has caused serious air pollution and health concerns. These concerns are particularly prominent in countries where electricity use is likewise dominated by industry and heavily dependent on coal-based electricity. A more efficient industry and coal-free electricity systems are the core components of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Previous studies rarely reflect on the impacts of the electricity savings of industrial consumers on the electricity supply sector with respect to future air emission changes, and also neglect the potential benefits of reducing investments in new generation capacity. Here, a comprehensive modeling framework is newly developed to quantify the connections of electricity savings, coal-based electricity systems, air pollutant emissions, and control investments in China, a country exposed to poor air quality. The modeling framework includes 175 energy efficiency technologies (covering multiple industrial sectors) and detailed information of power generation units (thermal efficiency, environmental performance, and lifespan), and allows for unit-by-unit assessment. We find that industrial efficiency improvements can significantly decrease the dependence on coal-fired power generation, particularly the most polluting power fleet. Efficient use of electricity in industry can drive all small high-polluting coal generation units (i.e. units below 300 MW, in total 753 units) to be phased out and effectively curb less efficient coal-fired plants to come online in China. Meanwhile, the air pollutant emissions can be significantly avoided because of the closed coal-fired power units. Developed cost portfolios demonstrate that improving industrial energy efficiency is more cost-effective than installing flue gas controls in coal-fired plants. We further reveal that a sustainable industry could contribute to climate change mitigation even if less remarkable than air quality improvement, while enabling the expansion of intermittent renewable power supply.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Air pollution; Co-benefits; CO2 emission; Electricity consumption; Energy planning
Research Programs: Energy, Climate, and Environment (ECE)
Energy, Climate, and Environment (ECE) > Pollution Management (PM)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 22 Apr 2021 05:37
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:34

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item