Li, Jianglong

Jianglong Li, Mun S. Ho, Chunping Xie, and Nicholas Stern. 2022. “China's flexibility challenge in achieving carbon neutrality by 2060.” Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 158, April, Pp. 112112.Abstract
China, with a heavy dependence on coal power, has announced a clear goal of carbon neutrality by 2060. Electrification of final energy use and high penetration of renewable energy are essential to achieve this. The resulting growth of intermittent renewables and changes in demand curve profiles require greater flexibility in the power system for real-time balancing – greater ability of generators and consumers to ramp up and down. However, the plan and market system with regulated prices makes this challenging. We discuss the options to improve flexibility, including 1) increasing supply-side flexibility, through retrofitting existing power plants to boost their responsiveness; 2) promoting flexibility from power grids, through building an efficient power grid with inter-provincial and inter-regional transmission capacity to balance spatial mismatch, given that China has a vast territory; 3) encouraging demand flexibility, through demand-response measures to enable demand shifting over time and space to address fluctuations in renewable energy generation; and 4) providing flexibility from energy storage. We consider policies to achieve this, in particular, power market reforms to unlock the flexibility potential of these sources. Regulated electricity prices and lack of auxiliary services markets are major obstacles and we discuss how markets in other countries provide lessons in providing incentives for a more flexible system.
Jianglong Li and Mun S. Ho. 2022. “Indirect cost of renewable energy: Insights from dispatching.” Energy Economics, 105, January 2022, Pp. 105778. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The rapidly falling costs of renewable energy has made them the focus of efforts in making a low-carbon transition. However, when cheap large-scale energy storage is not available, the variability of renewables implies that fossil-based technologies have to ramp up-and-down frequently to provide flexibility for matching electricity demand and supply. Here we provide a study on the indirect cost of renewable energy due to thermal efficiency loss of coal plants with such ramping requirements. Using monthly panel data for China, we show that higher renewable share is associated with fewer operating hours of coal-fired units (COHOUR). We use an instrumental variable depending on natural river flows to identify the causal effect of reduced COHOURs in raising the heat rate of coal-fired units. Specifically, a 1 percentage point increase in the share of renewables leads to a 6.4 h reduction per month, and a reduction of one COHOUR results in a 0.09 gce/kWh increase of gross heat rate (+0.03%). We estimate that the thermal efficiency loss indicates 4.77 billion US dollars of indirect cost of renewables in 2019, or 9.44 billion if we include the social cost of carbon emissions. These results indicate that we should consider the indirect impacts of renewables on total coal use and the importance of increasing flexibility of the system.
Lin Zhou, Jianglong Li, Yangqing Dan, Chunping Xie, Houyin Long, and Hongxun Liu. 2019. “Entering and exiting: Productivity evolution of energy supply in China.” Sustainability, 11, 983. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The continuous entry of new firms and exit of old ones might have substantial effects on productivity of energy supply. Since China is the world’s largest energy producer, productivity of energy supply in China is a significant issue, which affects sustainability. As a technical application, this paper investigates the productivity and dynamic changes of Chinese coal mining firms. We find that the total factor productivity (TFP) growth of coal supply in China is largely lagging behind the growth rate of coal production. The entry and exit of non-state-owned enterprise (non-SOE) partially provide explanation for the dynamic change of aggregate TFP. Specifically, non-state owned entrants induced by the coal price boom after 2003, which had negative effects on TFP of energy supply, while the exit of non-SOEs had positive effects. Furthermore, there is regional heterogeneity concerning the effects of entry and exit on energy supply productivity. More entrants induced by coal price boom are concentrated in non-main production region (non-MPR), while more exits are located in MPR due to the government’s enforcement. This provides explanation for the phenomena that productivity of energy supply in MPR gradually surpasses that in non-MPR. We also anticipate our paper to enhance understanding on the energy supply-side, which might further help us make informed decisions on energy planning and environmental policies.
Hongxun Liu, Kerui Du, and Jianglong Li. 2019. “An improved approach to estimate direct rebound effect by incorporating energy efficiency: A revisit of China's industrial energy demand.” Energy Economics, 80, May, Pp. 720-730. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The rebound effect, or the response to energy efficiency improvement, has drawn considerable attention from economists and policymakers. However, the magnitude remains quite controversial because of the differences in the definitions and methods being used. Originating from the definition of direct rebound effect, we develop an improved approach incorporating energy efficiency. The main advantages of the proposed approach are twofold. First, it enables us to estimate the demand elasticity of useful energy service with respect to energy service price. The estimates are more consistent with the definition of rebound effect and are more effective. Second, it decomposes direct rebound effect into substitution and output channels, enabling us to further understand the microeconomic mechanisms. Applying this method, we assess the direct energy rebound effect in China’s industrial sectors. We find that the direct rebound effect for the industry is 37.0%, and the substitution and output channels contribute to 13.1% and 23.9%, respectively. Substantial variations in the magnitudes and mechanisms occur by sector. For heavy industry, most energy rebound is induced by output expansion because of its sizeable cost decrease from efficiency improvements. Unlike heavy industry, most energy rebound in light industry comes from substituting energy service for other inputs because firms in light industry are more flexible in adjusting production inputs. Our results provide evidences for the importance of energy efficiency measures, and highlight the necessity of differentiated measures according to the sectoral characteristics.
Jianglong Li, Chang Chen, and Hongxun Liu. 2019. “Transition from non-commercial to commercial energy in rural China: Insights from the accessibility and affordability.” Energy Policy, 127, April, Pp. 392-403. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Rural components are integral parts of China's economy, and hundreds of millions of China's residents still live in rural areas. Rural residents heavily depend on non-commercial energy due to the inaccessibility and unaffordability of commercial energy. Conventional use of solid biomass fuels threatens public health as well as environmental and ecological sustainability. Thus, rural energy transition must be promoted. By using a new dataset, we show China's rural energy transition to gain insights on where, how, and why this transition occurs in rural households. Unlike previous views, we find that after considering non-commercial energy, the per capita consumption of rural residential energy is considerably larger than that of urban counterparts. Moreover, migrations from rural to urban areas decrease rather than increase residential energy consumption. Furthermore, rural energy transition from low to high quality depresses energy consumption. Our results demonstrate how accessibility and affordability affect the fuel preferences of rural residents, thereby enabling us to identify the mechanisms of rural energy transition. We provide some insights and policy implications on the routes of China's rural energy transition, which may be further extended to other emerging and developing countries due to their similar rural energy use.