Chen, Shi

Shaojie Song, Haiyang Lin, Peter Sherman, Xi Yang, Shi Chen, Xi Lu, Tianguang Lu, Xinyu Chen, and Michael B. McElroy. 2022. “Deep decarbonization of the Indian economy: 2050 prospects for wind, solar, and green hydrogen.” iScience, 25, 6, Pp. 104399. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The paper explores options for a 2050 carbon free energy future for India. Onshore wind and solar sources are projected as the dominant primary contributions to this objective. The analysis envisages an important role for so-called green hydrogen produced by electrolysis fueled by these carbon free energy sources. This hydrogen source can be used to accommodate for the intrinsic variability of wind and solar complementing opportunities for storage of power by batteries and pumped hydro. The green source of hydrogen can be used also to supplant current industrial uses of gray hydrogen produced in the Indian context largely from natural gas with important related emissions of CO2. The paper explores further options for use of green hydrogen to lower emissions from otherwise difficult to abate sectors of both industry and transport. The analysis is applied to identify the least cost options to meet India’s zero carbon future.
Shi Chen, Xi Lu, Chris P. Nielsen, Guannan Geng, Michael B. McElroy, Shuxiao Wang, and Jiming Hao. 2022. “Improved air quality in China can enhance solar power performance and accelerate carbon neutrality targets.” One Earth, 5, 5, Pp. 550-562. Publisher's VersionAbstract
China forecasts that a 14-fold increase in photovoltaic installations is needed to meet 2060 carbon-neutrality targets. In light of the fact that air pollution impairs photovoltaic performance, pollution control could reduce the installation requirement, but research has not yet taken into account the coeval impact of unfavorable meteorological conditions, which also impair performance. Here, we employ a coupled model to determine the impact of air-pollution control policies on China’s photovoltaic power output in the presence of varying meteorological conditions between 1995 and 2019. We find that the benefits of air-pollution control introduced in 2004 were only partially offset by unfavorable meteorological conditions (primarily in Central and South China) and resulted in solar-power performance improvement of 0.9%/decade from 2008 onward. Further analysis shows that solar-power output in 2020 was 1.7% higher thanks to air-pollution control and that more stringent air-quality targets could reduce the demand for photovoltaic installed capacity needed to meet the 2060 carbon-neutrality target.
Xi Lu, Shi Chen, Chris P. Nielsen, Chongyu Zhang, Jiacong Li, Xu He, Ye Wu, Shuxiao Wang, Feng Song, Chu Wei, Kebin He, Michael P. McElroy, and Jiming Hao. 2021. “Combined solar power and storage as cost-competitive and grid-compatible supply for China’s future carbon-neutral electricity system.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118, October, Pp. 42. Publisher's VersionAbstract

As the world’s largest CO2 emitter, China’s ability to decarbonize its energy system strongly affects the prospect of achieving the 1.5 °C limit in global, average surface-temperature rise. Understanding technically feasible, cost-competitive, and grid-compatible solar photovoltaic (PV) power potentials spatiotemporally is critical for China’s future energy pathway. This study develops an integrated model to evaluate the spatiotemporal evolution of the technology-economic-grid PV potentials in China during 2020 to 2060 under the assumption of continued cost degression in line with the trends of the past decade. The model considers the spatialized technical constraints, up-to-date economic parameters, and dynamic hourly interactions with the power grid. In contrast to the PV production of 0.26 PWh in 2020, results suggest that China’s technical potential will increase from 99.2 PWh in 2020 to 146.1 PWh in 2060 along with technical advances, and the national average power price could decrease from 4.9 to 0.4 US cents/kWh during the same period. About 78.6% (79.7 PWh) of China’s technical potential will realize price parity to coal-fired power in 2021, with price parity achieved nationwide by 2023. The cost advantage of solar PV allows for coupling with storage to generate cost-competitive and grid-compatible electricity. The combined systems potentially could supply 7.2 PWh of grid-compatible electricity in 2060 to meet 43.2% of the country’s electricity demand at a price below 2.5 US cents/kWh. The findings highlight a crucial energy transition point, not only for China but for other countries, at which combined solar power and storage systems become a cheaper alternative to coal-fired electricity and a more grid-compatible option.

Lu et al. is the cover article of this October issue of PNAS. Read the Research Brief.
Tianguang Lu, Peter Sherman, Xinyu Chen, Shi Chen, Xi Lu, and Michael B. McElroy. 2020. “India’s potential for integrating solar and on- and offshore wind power into its energy system.” Nature Communications, 11, 4750. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This paper considers options for a future Indian power economy in which renewables, wind and solar, could meet 80% of anticipated 2040 power demand supplanting the country’s current reliance on coal. Using a cost optimization model, here we show that renewables could provide a source of power cheaper or at least competitive with what could be supplied using fossil-based alternatives. The ancillary advantage would be a significant reduction in India’s future power sector related emissions of CO2. Using a model in which prices for wind turbines and solar PV systems are assumed to continue their current decreasing trend, we conclude that an investment in renewables at a level consistent with meeting 80% of projected 2040 power demand could result in a reduction of 85% in emissions of CO2 relative to what might be expected if the power sector were to continue its current coal dominated trajectory.
The potential of photovoltaics to power the Belt and Road Initiative
Shi Chen, Xi Lu, Yufei Miao, Yu Deng, Chris P. Nielsen, Noah Elbot, Yuanchen Wang, Kathryn G. Logan, Michael B. McElroy, and Jiming Hao. 2019. “The potential of photovoltaics to power the Belt and Road Initiative.” Joule, 3, 8, Pp. 1895-1912. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Construction of carbon-intensive energy infrastructure is well underway under the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), challenging the global climate target. Regionally abundant solar power could provide an alternative for electricity generation. An integrative spatial model was developed to evaluate the technical potential of solar photovoltaic power. The influence of impacting factors was quantified systematically on an hourly basis. Results suggest that the electricity potential for the BRI region reaches 448.9 PWh annually, 41.3 times the regional demand for electricity in 2016. Tapping 3.7% of the potential through deploying 7.8 TW capacity could satisfy the regional electricity demand projected for 2030, requiring an investment of approximately 11.2 trillion 2017 USD and a commitment in land area of 88,426 km2, approximately 0.9% of China’s total. Countries endowed with 70.7% of the overall potential consume only 30.1% of regional electricity. The imbalance underscores the advantage of regional cooperation and investments in interconnected grids.
Graphic Summary Joule full paper.pdf