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Energy and Its Sustainable Development for China - Editorial Introduction

Energy and Its Sustainable Development for China - Editorial Introduction

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Author's personal copy
Energy and its sustainable development for China: Editorial introductionand commentary for the special issue of Energy
The international journal
1. Introduction
Energy resourcing, use, and its economic, environmental andsocial impacts have a critical in
uence on development in generaland on sustainable development in particular. Noting that amongthe nations China tops the world in population, energy consump-tion (from 2010) and greenhouse gas emissions (from about2008), and has one of the highest growth rates among the world
snations in its energy consumption and economy, it is obvious thatits sustainable development is of vital need both to China and tothe rest of the world. The Guest Editors of this Special Issue (SI)ofEnergy
TheInternationalJournalhavethereforeinvitedleadingexperts, mostly from China, to share their knowledge by reviewingmost
of the key aspects of sustainable energy development inChina, including their views of possible sustainable paths to thefuture. It gives us great pleasure to present this SI
Energy andsustainable development for China
The International Journal.This Editorial Introduction provides a very brief summary of themost recently available energy and emissions data
in an interna-tional context, outlines the structure of the SI, summarizes themainpointsin theSIpapers(insome cases withsome commentaryand updating), points to relations between different papers,
briefsummaryand additional comments for some sustainable paths to the future.For the readers
convenience, the articles in the SI are classi
edinto the following four categories:
Energy strategy and technical road map
Non-renewable energy technologies and use
Renewable energy
Environmental aspects and technology,but many papers fall into more than a single category.
2. Sustainable energy development requires harmoniousprogress of economy, environment, and society 
Availability of adequate and affordable amounts of energy is anabsolute need for satisfactory social development, a fact that isespecially signi
cant for people and entire nations that lack it.The inequity in energy use worldwide, shows that six out of sevenpeople(includingtheaveragecitizenofChina)consumelessthan¼of the remaining seventh person, and that one-third of humanitylacks access to modern energy forms and services (interpolatedfrom[1
3]), including nearly a quarter who have no access to elec-tricity.Thisisofcourseveryworrisomeforthepresentandperhapseven more so for the future when energy-poor people[4]willadvance to acceptable energy use levels and consequently raisethe worldwide energy use with all its impacts.Since the 1990
s China is engaged in rapid economic and socialdevelopmentandatpresenthasoneofthelargestenergyconsump-tions in the world and one of the highest energy and GDP annualgrowthrates(9.1%for bothin 2009). These magnitudes and growthunfortunatelycause severe environmental impact on air, water andland, and it now is also one of the larger emitters of CO
. It also stilllags in all sustainability metrics, environmental, economical andsocial; employing the commonly used Human Development Indexformulated and monitored by the United Nations, China is in the92d place among the 182 countries considered[5]. These negativeconsequences are unsustainable for both China and the world andit is obvious therefore that it should progress signi
cantly.Considering the size of China
s population, the quantity of itsenergy resources is relatively low. For example, the estimatedper-capita energy resources of coal and hydropower is only about50% of the world average, and of oil and gas resources it is only1/15of theworldaverage[1,2].In China
s advancetowardsahigherstandard of living for its 1.33 billionpeople, it is thus faced with thecon
ict between rapid economic development, the associatedenergy use and environment pollution, and energy and resourceshortages and depletion. It must not choose the model, takenhistoricallybymanyofthecurrentlydevelopedcountries,ofenergyusedevelopment
rstandtreatmentofthenegativeenvironmentaland social impacts afterwards.The profound question that these problems create is: what isthe optimal path to China
s sustainable development that ensuresa reasonable socio-economic standard to its people, whichharmoniously integrates use of resources, energy conversion, andenvironmental protection for China and the world? To start
Practicalities of assembling and peer-reviewing such a large number of papershave regrettably not permitted adequate inclusion of all important topics.
The data is mostly for the years 2007
2009. Some differences exist between thedata in the Editorial Commentary and those in the SI papers, as well as betweenthose among some of the individual papers, mostly because the data used werenot always for the same year as sources. Furthermore, a sad fact is that there isa large uncertainty in the accuracy and completeness of the energy data fromand about China.
Contents lists available atScienceDirect
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/energy
see front matter
2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.doi:10.1016/j.energy.2010.08.001
Energy 35 (2010) 4246
Author's personal copy
answeringthisquestion,domesticandinternationalenergyexpertshave been invited to contribute to this SI to deeply explore andthoroughly review the Chinese energy situation and its develop-ment tendency, aiming to provide the readers with a picture thatis as realistic as possible. Some of the authors are professors fromuniversitiesorresearchinstitutes;somearefromthegovernmentalenergy development of 
ces such as the National Energy Adminis-tration of China, and some are highly experienced engineers fromthe industrial sector.The accomplishment of this SI was partially based on severalprojects in which some the Guest Editors and authors have beeninvolved. For example, the Engineering Academy and Scienti
cAcademy of the China and the USA are conducting a cooperativeproject with energy and environmental issue, and some of paperswere based on the reports written by the top scientists in Chinain this project. Some other papers are based on some reportsfrom other projects, which concern to China
s plans and needs of key technologies in the energy area in the next 5
15 years.The intention of this SI is to: (a) describe the current situationsand trends and describe China
s plans and needs in the energyareain the next 10
20 years, (b) focus on addressing the question as tohow China may be satisfying these needs, and the related energyresource, technologies, the economic, environmental and socialconsequences, and (c) answer the question whether this can bedone in a sustainable way, and how. The invited papers describeresources, technologies, environmental measures and conse-quences, social consequences (including existing and needed polit-ical action), and economics. The authors were encouraged to usequantitative descriptions and comparisons with other countriesand the world as whole and these were indeed included.WehopethattheSIwouldbeanimportantandtimelycontribu-tion to the scienti
c literature.
3. Energy strategy and technical road map
The fractions of the energy resources supplying the primaryenergy demand are shown inFig.1. More than 70% is met by coal.
Neither stopping the development to deal with climate changenor developing the economy without considering the climatechange is acceptable
is a very pertinent quote from the openingSI paper by Jiang et al.[6]
. Considering its economic and socialsituation, China is obliged to improve the condition of its people,butnotbysimultaneouslycreatingenvironmentaldamageforitself andtherestoftheworld,ofmagnitudethatfuturegenerationsmaynot be able to tolerate. Having at present to use coal for 70% of itsenergy needs at a relatively low ef 
ciency at that, the environ-mental effects and hazards to miners are most severe. The policiesthat Jianget al. recommend for the future start with energysavingsincluding signi
cant modernization of the energy conversionindustry to improve ef 
ciency, and simultaneously recommendenergy resource switching to renewable and nuclear energy, withmuch improved energy regulations and management systems bygovernment. Examples of areas where such regulatory improve-ments are needed include for electric generation and transmissionsectors to allow sale of energy to large utilities by small producers,to structure the electric industry so that it allows commercialdevelopmentandsaleofrenewableenergy,especially theintermit-tent types like wind and solar, appropriate enforcement powerandeffective action over the energy industry and users, fair marketpractices, and proper resolution between China
s national and localcon
ictsrelatedtosuchproblems.Astothelatter,itisimpossibletohavea policy for national bene
t when different local governmentschose not to participate. Equally important but dif 
cult to imple-ment is the recommendation that the government should promoteenergy price reform to gradually form an equitable pricing mecha-nism that re
ects all externalities, such as resourcescarcity, marketdemand and supply, and the cost for pollution control, whichwould thus also be the basis for a more equitable comparisonbetween different energy resources and conversion system, espe-cially useful for promoting the development of renewable energy.To demonstrate the magnitude of externalities, they cite an esti-mate that the cost of only the externalities for coal is 117% higherthan the 600 Yuan RMB per ton price of coal in 2009.AsamplydemonstratedintheanalysesreportedbyHeetal.inSIpaper[7], aggressive energy policies formulated to promote energyef 
ciency and energy conservation, in part by decreasing theenergy intensity of activities and products, will also result insubstantial environmental bene
ts that include, by the year 2030,a CO
.emissions reduction of 22% relative to those in 2009, andmore than 100 billion US$ of health bene
t. The SI paper byLi et al.[8]focuses on the concept of 
circular economy
foundedon ef 
cient resource use and waste stream feedback, where recy-cling of energy and materials is an essential part of any energysaving and pollution reduction process. Noting that the ef 
ciencyof energy use in China is only about 33%, at least 10% (and insome cases up to 50%) lower than that in the developed countries,they give a number of quantitative examples from the Chineseprocess industry (that consumes about 70% of China
s energy)with recommendations that include process integration, forpossibly large improvements in both energy ef 
ciency and pollu-tion reduction.Transportation is rapidlygrowing in Chinaand has majoreffectson energy and emissions, as described in detail in the SI paperby Hu et al.[9]. China had about 10 million motor vehicles(allfollowingnumbersexcludemotorcycles)in1990[10],anumberthat has increased to about 57 million in 2007 and 85 million in2009[11], amounting to a recent growth rate of about 22%/year.If the current trend continues, China
s is expected to have 400million motor vehicles (about 62% of the current number of motorvehicles in the entireworld!), with commensurate increase in
uidfuel demand, by the year of 2030. Apart from the negative environ-mentalandsocialeffectsrelatedtoemissions,congestion,accidentsand other consequences, this would be a major burden on fuelsupply since China is already a net importer of 
uid fuels. Throughimproving fuel economy, encouragement of use of hybrid-electric,electric, and clean diesel vehicles, improvement of alternative fuelsupply such as biomass-based or from coal (as long as they areaffordable and do not cause unacceptable environmental prob-lems), and development of public transport, the potential energysavingcapacityisestimatedto be60%by2030,which,atleasttech-nically,couldkeeptheoildemandbyon-roadvehicleatthecurrentlevel. Several very signi
cant uncertainties in attaining these goals
Fig. 1.
Total energy consumption in China, by type (2009)[2]. The only renewableenergy included is hydropower.
In this Editorial Introduction some of the citations are to the papers publishedin this SI, and some from other sources.
Editorial / Energy 35 (2010) 4246 
Author's personal copy
towards sustainable transportation include traf 
c ef 
ciency, thecentral government
s resolution to effectively work towards thesegoals and to price transport and its fuels with proper inclusion of their externalities, and consumers
choices. It is noteworthy thatthe worldwide trend to the use of electric vehicles, and China
sstrong demand for cars, offer Chinese industry an opportunity tocompete in this new
eld where the competition is not yet fullyestablished, by R&D of appropriate batteries and manufacturingof cars, and this has already started.NuclearpowerispartofpowersupplymixinChina.AsshowninFig.1, only about 0.7% of China
s primary energy consumption is bynuclear power, but 6 new reactors are under construction to add tothe 11 that are in operation[12]. As discussed in the SI paper byZhouetal.[13],theobviousdrivingfactorsfornuclearpowerdevel-opmentincludethe brisk electricitydemand, nearly zero CO
emis-sions, oil supply security, and increasingly positive publicacceptance. It is, however, still unclear whether nuclear energydevelopment for China, as in the rest of the World, is sustainable,
rstly due to problems of reactor safety, nuclear waste treatment,and risk of proliferation of weapons material. In addition, nucleartechnology diversity, shortage of uranium resources, and weakmarket competitiveness of nuclear power in the short term, aswell as promising developments in clean coal combustion, arecertainbarriersthatChina
snuclearenergydevelopmentalsofaces.Furthermore, we have learned fromworld experience with nuclearpower that public acceptance is
ckle, ranging from universalenthusiasm in the late 1950-s about the enormous potential of nuclear power to satisfy the world
s energy demand economically,cleanlyandsafely,tothevariouslaterdecisions(fromthe1980s)onnuclear power moratoriain manycountries thathavebeen using it,and recently back to reserved acceptance due to global warmingand oil and gas supply security concerns. These uncertaintiespose serious dif 
culties for long range national and private sectorplanning.Zhouetal.[13]putforwardsomesuggestionsandrecom-mendations for domestic nuclear technology developmentincluding the alleviation of some of the concerns and for upholdingpublic acceptance.Electric power generation poses a formidable challenge toChina
s sustainable development. Its electricity consumption hasbeen experiencing world-record-defying growth rates, and for theyear 2010 is expected to reach (3.451)10
kWh. Increased intro-duction of electric cars will add to the regular growth. Being coal-dominated and using relatively low ef 
ciency power plants, it isthe country
s largest source of air pollution and GHG emissions.Furthermore, the transmission grid has dif 
culties in catching upwith the growth rate. The inadequacy of transmission is not uniqueto China, and is common to most countries, including the moredeveloped ones such as the US[14]. The SI paper by Zhou et al.[15]provides a detailed description of the transmission in China,noting that its power grid is one of the biggest interconnectedpower grids in the world but its structure is relatively weak asawhole, with many potential security issues, and low transmissioncapability of the single circuit.Some estimates[16]show that the transmission and distribu-tion energy losses were about 7%. The quality and extent of theelectricity transmission grid is obviously of major importance inproviding and distributing electricity to this rapidly developingcountry, but is also of critical importance for increasing the roleof solar and wind power that are intermittent by nature and wherethe grid can thus provide an effective and economical substitute toelectricitystorage.Inthatcontext,itcanconnectthesolarandwindenergy rich western provinces, that have a relatively low powerdemand, to the southern and eastern regions of China where thedemand is great. Such interconnection, mostly to make easier useof northwestern fossil fuel resources, is slowly under way anyway,via the
Power Transmission from the West to the East
plan thatincludes the development of new 1000 kV UHVAC and 800 kV UHVDC transmission systems.To catch up with distribution, improve the reliability andstability of the delivered power, make good use of remote andrenewable energy resources and to increase energy ef 
ciencyand reduce pollution, China
s transmission grid developmentmust be accelerated, interconnection of the regional power gridsmust be strengthened, and new technologies must be adopted toincrease the transmission capacity.Due the rapid demand and generation growth, China
s electricpower industry has been going through reform, including
to improve ef 
ciency and lower emissions of power plants,and
that increasingly follow the path of market-orientedreforms in the electricity sector worldwide, including a separationof generation from transmission and distribution and an emphasison opening up the sector to competition. A recent study by Wil-liams and Kahrl[17]
nds, however, several fundamental short-comings in its basic institutions and functions, including con
ictsofinterest betweenprovincial and national interests,prices of elec-tricitythatdonotincludemajorexternalities,inadequatetransmis-sion and distribution systems and lack of investment incentives fortheir improvement, ineffective regulation enforcement mecha-nisms that, for example, do not enforce the use of desulfurizationequipment in coal power stations, abuse of feed-in tariff regula-tions that encourages installed capacity growth but not necessarilyhigher generation from renewable energy systems such as wind,and ineffective governmental backing of energy ef 
ciency/demand-side management. They recommend that incentives onthe one hand and penalties on the other, and a transparent unbi-ased policy supported primarily by China
s central government,butalsoaidedbyOECD,willbeofmajorimportanceinthedevelop-ment of independent regulatory capacity in China
s electricitysectorandtherebyinadvancingeffectivepowergenerationgrowth.
4. Non-renewable energy technologies and use
About 70% of China
s energy comes from coal and it is expectedtoremaindominantforatleastthecominghalfacentury,andtheSIdiscusses this subject thoroughly. The SI paper by Yang et al.[18]describesthe development of Chinese coal power generation sincethe 1980
s. The recent rate of power generation increase is demon-strated by the fact that the year 2006 has seen the installation of additional1000MWeeach3.3days,unprecedentedinworldpowergeneration rate history. With the operation of large-capacity andhigh-ef 
cient power units, the development of power plant ITand control technologies, and the improvement in operation andmaintenance, have greatly improved the reliability and economyof coal-
red power generation units in China. The recommendedpath to the future is a focus on transition from small (
300 MW)units that are inherently less ef 
cient, and constructing larger-capacity high-ef 
ciency power units, retro
tting old 200
300 MW power units to achieve better performance, shuttingdown small-sized (
100 MW) power units, developing cogenera-tion, and on the environmental side applying high-ef 
ciency dustseparation technology, new
ue gas desulfurization and de-NO
techniques, employing advanced air-cooling technology for waterconservation without signi
cant ef 
ciency loss, and increasinglyintroducing and developing large-capacity supercritical powerunits.A large increase in power generation ef 
ciency can be obtainedby using combined cycles, but the current technology requires theconversion of the coal to gas or liquid fuels that would be used ingas turbines. The most prominent ongoing approach is the inte-grated gasi
cation combined cycle (IGCC), the development of 
Editorial / Energy 35 (2010) 4246 

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