Air Quality and Health Implications of Coal Power Retirements Attributed to Industrial Electricity Savings in China

Yue, H., Worrell, E., Crijns-Graus, W., Wagner, F. ORCID:, Zhang, S. ORCID:, & Hu, J. (2024). Air Quality and Health Implications of Coal Power Retirements Attributed to Industrial Electricity Savings in China. Environmental Science & Technology 10.1021/acs.est.3c09517. (In Press)

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The coal-dominated electricity system, alongside increasing industrial electricity demand, places China into a dilemma between industrialization and environmental impacts. A practical solution is to exploit air quality and health cobenefits of industrial energy efficiency measures, which has not yet been integrated into China's energy transition strategy. This research examines the pivotal role of industrial electricity savings in accelerating coal plant retirements and assesses the nexus of energy-pollution-health by modeling nationwide coal-fired plants at individual unit level. It shows that minimizing electricity needs by implementing more efficient technologies leads to the phaseout of 1279 hyper-polluting units (subcritical, <300 MW) by 2040, advancing the retirement of these units by an average of 7 years (3-16 years). The retirements at different locations yield varying levels of air quality improvements (9-17%), across six power grids. Reduced exposure to PM2.5 could avoid 123,100 pollution-related cumulative deaths over the next 20 years from 2020, of which ∼75% occur in the Central, East, and North grids, particularly coal-intensive and populous provinces (e.g., Shandong and Jiangsu). These findings provide key indicators to support geographically specific policymaking and lay out a rationale for decision-makers to incorporate multiple benefits into early coal phaseout strategies to avoid lock-in risk.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: early coal retirements; energy efficiency; energy-intensive industry; health benefits; integrated assessment
Research Programs: Energy, Climate, and Environment (ECE)
Energy, Climate, and Environment (ECE) > Pollution Management (PM)
Energy, Climate, and Environment (ECE) > Transformative Institutional and Social Solutions (TISS)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 02 May 2024 13:31
Last Modified: 02 May 2024 13:31

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