Zhao, Yu

2019
Yan Zhang, Xin Bo, Yu Zhao, and Chris P. Nielsen. 2019. “Benefits of current and future policies on emissions of China's coal-fired power sector indicated by continuous emission monitoring.” Environmental Pollution, 251, Pp. 415-424. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Emission inventories are critical to understanding the sources of air pollutants, but have high uncertainties in China due in part to insufficient on-site measurements. In this study, we developed a method of examining, screening and applying online data from the country's improving continuous emission monitoring systems (CEMS) to reevaluate a “bottom-up” emission inventory of China's coal-fired power sector. The benefits of China's current national emission standards and ultra-low emission policy for the sector were quantified assuming their full implementation. The derived national average emission factors of SO2, NOx and particulate matter (PM) were 1.00, 1.00 and 0.25 kg/t-coal respectively for 2015 based on CEMS data, smaller than those of previous studies that may not fully recognize improved emission controls in recent years. The annual emissions of SO2, NOx and PM from the sector were recalculated at 1321, 1430 and 334 Gg respectively, 75%, 63% and 76% smaller than our estimates based on a previous approach without the benefit of CEMS data. The results imply that online measurement with proper data screening can better track the recent progress of emission controls. The emission intensity (the ratio of emissions to economic output) of Northwest China was larger than that of other regions, attributed mainly to its less intensive economy and industry. Transmission of electricity to more-developed eastern provinces raised the energy consumption and emissions of less-developed regions. Judged by 95 percentiles of flue-gas concentrations measured by CEMS, most power plants met the current national emission standards in 2015 except for those in Northwest and Northeast China, while plants that met the ultra-low emission policy were much scarcer. National SO2, NOx and PM emissions would further decline by 68%, 55% and 81% respectively if the ultra-low emission policy can be strictly implemented, implying the great potential of the policy for emission abatement.
2016
Yinmin Xia, Yu Zhao, and Chris P. Nielsen. 2016. “Benefits of China's efforts in gaseous pollutant control indicated by bottom-up emissions and satellite observations 2000-2014.” Atmospheric Environment, 136, July, Pp. 43-53. Publisher's VersionAbstract

To evaluate the effectiveness of national air pollution control policies, the emissions of SO2, NOX, CO and CO2 in China are estimated using bottom-up methods for the most recent 15-year period (2000–2014). Vertical column densities (VCDs) from satellite observations are used to test the temporal and spatial patterns of emissions and to explore the ambient levels of gaseous pollutants across the country. The inter-annual trends in emissions and VCDs match well except for SO2. Such comparison is improved with an optimistic assumption in emission estimation that the emission standards for given industrial sources issued after 2010 have been fully enforced. Underestimation of emission abatement and enhanced atmospheric oxidization likely contribute to the discrepancy between SO2 emissions and VCDs. As suggested by VCDs and emissions estimated under the assumption of full implementation of emission standards, the control of SO2 in the 12th Five-Year Plan period (12th FYP, 2011–2015) is estimated to be more effective than that in the 11th FYP period (2006–2010), attributed to improved use of flue gas desulfurization in the power sector and implementation of new emission standards in key industrial sources. The opposite was true for CO, as energy efficiency improved more significantly from 2005 to 2010 due to closures of small industrial plants. Iron & steel production is estimated to have had particularly strong influence on temporal and spatial patterns of CO. In contrast to fast growth before 2011 driven by increased coal consumption and limited controls, NOX emissions decreased from 2011 to 2014 due to the penetration of selective catalytic/non-catalytic reduction systems in the power sector. This led to reduced NO2 VCDs, particularly in relatively highly polluted areas such as the eastern China and Pearl River Delta regions. In developed areas, transportation is playing an increasingly important role in air pollution, as suggested by the increased ratio of NO2 to SO2 VCDs. For air quality in mega cities, the inter-annual trends in emissions and VCDs indicate that surrounding areas are more influential in NO2 level for Beijing than those for Shanghai.

2015
Y. Zhao, LP Qiu, RY Xu, FJ Xie, Q. Zhang, YY Yu, C.P. Nielsen, HX Qin, H.K. Wang, XC Wu, WQ Li, and J. Zhang. 2015. “Advantages of city-scale emission inventory for urban air quality research and policy: the case of Nanjing, a typical industrial city in the Yangtze River Delta, China.” Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 15, Pp. 12623-12644. Publisher's VersionAbstract

With most eastern Chinese cities facing major air quality challenges, there is a strong need for city-scale emission inventories for use in both chemical transport modeling and the development of pollution control policies. In this paper, a high-resolution emission inventory of air pollutants and CO2 for Nanjing, a typical large city in the Yangtze River Delta, is developed incorporating the best available information on local sources. Emission factors and activity data at the unit or facility level are collected and compiled using a thorough onsite survey of major sources. Over 900 individual plants, which account for 97% of the city's total coal consumption, are identified as point sources, and all of the emission-related parameters including combustion technology, fuel quality, and removal efficiency of air pollution control devices (APCD) are analyzed. New data-collection approaches including continuous emission monitoring systems and real-time monitoring of traffic flows are employed to improve spatiotemporal distribution of emissions. Despite fast growth of energy consumption between 2010 and 2012, relatively small inter-annual changes in emissions are found for most air pollutants during this period, attributed mainly to benefits of growing APCD deployment and the comparatively strong and improving regulatory oversight of the large point sources that dominate the levels and spatial distributions of Nanjing emissions overall. The improvement of this city-level emission inventory is indicated by comparisons with observations and other inventories at larger spatial scale. Relatively good spatial correlations are found for SO2, NOX, and CO between the city-scale emission estimates and concentrations at 9 state-opertated monitoring sites (R = 0.58, 0.46, and 0.61, respectively). The emission ratios of specific pollutants including BC to CO, OC to EC, and CO2 to CO compare well to top-down constraints from ground observations. The inter-annual variability and spatial distribution of NOX emissions are consistent with NO2 vertical column density measured by the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI). In particular, the Nanjing city-scale emission inventory correlates better with satellite observations than the downscaled Multi-resolution Emission Inventory for China (MEIC) does when emissions from power plants are excluded. This indicates improvement in emission estimation for sectors other than power generation, notably industry and transportation. High-resolution emission inventory may also provide a basis to consider the quality of instrumental observations. To further improve emission estimation and evaluation, more measurements of both emission factors and ambient levels of given pollutants are suggested; the uncertainties of emission inventories at city scale should also be fully quantified and compared with those at national scale. 


Yu Zhao, Hui Zhong, Jie Zhang, and Chris P Nielsen. 2015. “Evaluating the effects of China's pollution control on inter-annual trends and uncertainties of atmospheric mercury emissions.” Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 15, Pp. 4317–4337. Publisher's VersionAbstract
China's atmospheric mercury (Hg) emissions of anthropogenic origin have been effectively restrained through the national policy of air pollution control. Improved methods based on available field measurements are developed to quantify the benefits of Hg abatement through various emission control measures. Those measures include increased use of flue gas desulfurization (FGD) and selective catalyst reduction (SCR) systems for power sector, precalciners with fabric filter (FF) for cement production, machinery coking with electrostatic precipitator (ESP) for iron and steel production, and advanced manufacturing technologies for nonferrous metal smelting. Declining trends in emissions factors for those sources are revealed, leading to a much slower growth of national total Hg emissions than that of energy and economy, from 679 in 2005 to 750 metric tons (t) in 2012. In particular, nearly half of emissions from the above-mentioned four types of sources are expected to be reduced in 2012, attributed to expansion of technologies with high energy efficiencies and air pollutant removal rates after 2005. The speciation of Hg emissions keeps stable for recent years, with the mass fractions of around 55, 39 and 6% for Hg0, Hg2+ and Hgp, respectively. The lower estimate of Hg emissions than previous inventories is supported by limited chemistry simulation work, but middle-to-long term observation on ambient Hg levels is further needed to justify the inter-annual trends of estimated Hg emissions. With improved implementation of emission controls and energy saving, 23% reduction in annual Hg emissions for the most optimistic case in 2030 is expected compared to 2012, with total emissions below 600 t. While Hg emissions are evaluated to be gradually constrained, increased uncertainties are quantified with Monte-Carlo simulation for recent years, particularly for power and certain industrial sources. The uncertainty of Hg emissions from coal-fired power plants, as an example, increased from −48 ~ +73% in 2005 to −50 ~ +89% in 2012 (expressed as 95% confidence interval). This is attributed mainly to swiftly increased penetration of advanced manufacturing and pollutant control technologies. The unclear operation status or relatively small sample size of field measurements on those technologies results in lower but highly varied emission factors. To further confirm the benefits of pollution control polices with reduced uncertainty, therefore, systematic investigations are recommended specific for Hg pollution sources, and the variability of temporal trends and spatial distributions of Hg emissions need to be better tracked for the country under dramatic changes in economy, energy and air pollution status.
Hongfei Cui, Pan Mao, Yu Zhao, Chris P Nielsen, and Jie Zhang. 2015. “Patterns in atmospheric carbonaceous aerosols in China: Emission estimates and observed concentrations.” Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 15, Pp. 8657–8678. Publisher's VersionAbstract

 

China is experiencing severe carbonaceous aerosol pollution driven mainly by large emissions from intensive use of solid fuels. To gain a better understanding of the levels and trends of carbonaceous aerosol emissions and the resulting ambient concentrations at the national scale, we update an emission inventory of anthropogenic organic carbon (OC) and elemental carbon (EC), and employ existing observational studies to analyze characteristics of these aerosols including temporal, spatial, and size distributions, and the levels and contributions of secondary organic carbon (SOC) to total OC. We further use ground observations to test the levels and inter-annual trends of the calculated national and provincial emissions of carbonaceous aerosols, and propose possible improvements in emission estimation for the future. The national OC emissions are estimated to have increased 29% from 2000 (2127 Gg) to 2012 (2749 Gg) and EC by 37% (from 1356 to 1857 Gg). The residential, industrial, and transportation sectors contributed an estimated 76±2%, 19±2% and 5±1% of the total emissions of OC, respectively, and 52±3%, 32±2% and 16±2% of EC. Updated emission factors based on the most recent local field measurements, particularly for biofuel stoves, lead to considerably lower emissions of OC compared to previous inventories. Compiling observational data across the country, higher concentrations of OC and EC are found in northern and inland cities, while larger OC/EC and SOC/OC ratios are found in southern cities, due to the joint effects of primary emissions and meteorology. Higher SOC/OC ratios are estimated at rural and background sites compared to urban ones, attributed to more emissions of OC from biofuel use, more biogenic emissions of volatile organic compound (VOC) precursors to SOC, and/or transport of aged aerosols. For most sites, higher concentrations of OC, EC, and SOC are observed in colder seasons, while SOC/OC is reduced, particularly at regional sites, attributed partly to weaker atmospheric oxidation and SOC formation compared to summer. Enhanced SOC formation from oxidization and anthropogenic activities like biomass combustion is judged to have crucial effects on severe haze events characterized by high particle concentrations. Several observational studies indicate an increasing trend in ambient OC/EC (but not in OC or EC individually) from 2000 to 2010, confirming increased atmospheric oxidation of OC across the country. Combining the results of emission estimation and observations, the improvement over prior emission inventories is indicated by inter-annual comparisons and correlation analysis. It is also indicated, however, that the estimated growth in emissions might be faster than observed growth, and that some sources with high primary OC/EC like burning of biomass are still underestimated. Further studies to determine changing emission factors over time in the residential sector and to compare to other measurements such as satellite observations are thus suggested to improve understanding of the levels and trends of primary carbonaceous aerosol emissions in China.

2014
Yu Zhao, Jie Zhang, and Chris P Nielsen. 2014. “The effects of energy paths and emission controls and standards on future trends in China's emissions of primary air pollutants.” Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 14, Pp. 8849-8868. Publisher's VersionAbstract
To examine the efficacy of China's actions to control atmospheric pollution, three levels of growth of energy consumption and three levels of implementation of emission controls are estimated, generating a total of nine combined activity-emission control scenarios that are then used to estimate trends of national emissions of primary air pollutants through 2030. The emission control strategies are expected to have more effects than the energy paths on the future emission trends for all the concerned pollutants. As recently promulgated national action plans of air pollution prevention and control (NAPAPPC) are implemented, China's anthropogenic pollutant emissions should decline. For example, the emissions of SO2, NOx, total suspended particles (TSP), PM10, and PM2.5 are estimated to decline 7, 20, 41, 34, and 31% from 2010 to 2030, respectively, in the "best guess" scenario that includes national commitment of energy saving policy and implementation of NAPAPPC. Should the issued/proposed emission standards be fully achieved, a less likely scenario, annual emissions would be further reduced, ranging from 17 (for primary PM2.5) to 29% (for NOx) declines in 2015, and the analogue numbers would be 12 and 24% in 2030. The uncertainties of emission projections result mainly from the uncertain operational conditions of swiftly proliferating air pollutant control devices and lack of detailed information about emission control plans by region. The predicted emission trends by sector and chemical species raise concerns about current pollution control strategies: the potential for emissions abatement in key sectors may be declining due to the near saturation of emission control devices use; risks of ecosystem acidification could rise because emissions of alkaline base cations may be declining faster than those of SO2; and radiative forcing could rise because emissions of positive-forcing carbonaceous aerosols may decline more slowly than those of SO2 emissions and thereby concentrations of negative-forcing sulfate particles. Expanded control of emissions of fine particles and carbonaceous aerosols from small industrial and residential sources is recommended, and a more comprehensive emission control strategy targeting a wider range of pollutants (volatile organic compounds, NH3 and CO, etc.) and taking account of more diverse environmental impacts is also urgently needed.
2013
Yu Zhao, Wei Wei, and Yu Lei. 2013. “An Anthropogenic Emission Inventory of Primary Air Pollutants in China for 2005 and 2010.” In Clearer Skies Over China: Reconciling Air Quality, Climate, and Economic Goals, Pp. 225-261. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

A groundbreaking U.S.–Chinese inquiry into the effects of recent air pollution controls and prospective carbon taxes on China's economy and environment.

China's carbon dioxide emissions now outstrip those of other countries and its domestic air quality is severely degraded, especially in urban areas. Its sheer size and its growing, fossil-fuel-powered economy mean that China's economic and environmental policy choices will have an outsized effect on the global environmental future. Over the last decade, China has pursued policies that target both fossil fuel use and atmospheric emissions, but these efforts have been substantially overwhelmed by the country's increasing energy demands. With a billion citizens still living on less than $4,000 per year, China's energy and environmental policies must be reconciled with the goals of maintaining economic growth and raising living standards.

This book, a U.S.–Chinese collaboration of experts from Harvard and Tsinghua University, offers a groundbreaking integrated analysis of China's economy, emissions, air quality, public health, and agriculture. It first offers essential scientific context and accessible summaries of the book's policy findings; it then provides the underlying scientific and economic research. These studies suggest that China's recent sulfur controls achieved enormous environmental health benefits at unexpectedly low costs. They also indicate that judicious implementation of carbon taxes could reduce not only China's carbon emissions but also its air pollution more comprehensively than current single-pollutant policies, all at little cost to economic growth.

Yu Zhao, Jie Zhang, and Chris P Nielsen. 2013. “The effects of recent control policies on trends in emissions of anthropogenic atmospheric pollutants and CO2 in China.” Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 13, Pp. 487-508. Publisher's VersionAbstract

To examine the effects of China’s national policies of energy conservation and emission control during 2005–2010, inter-annual emission trends of gaseous pollutants, primary aerosols, and CO2 are estimated with a bottom-up framework. The control measures led to improved energy efficiency and/or increased penetration of emission control devices at power plants and other important industrial sources, yielding reduced emission factors for all evaluated species except NOx. The national emissions of anthropogenic SO2, CO, and total primary PM (particulate matter) in 2010 are estimated to have been 89%, 108%, and 87% of those in 2005, respectively, suggesting successful emission control of those species despite fast growth of the economy and energy consumption during the period. The emissions of NOx and CO2, however, are estimated to have increased by 47% and 43%, respectively, indicating that they remain largely determined by the growth of energy use, industrial production, and vehicle populations. Based on application of a Monte-Carlo framework, estimated uncertainties of SO2 and PM emissions increased from 2005 to 2010, resulting mainly from poorly understood average SO2 removal efficiency in flue gas desulfurization (FGD) systems in the power sector, and unclear changes in the penetration levels of dust collectors at industrial sources, respectively. While emission trends determined by bottom-up methods can be generally verified by observations from both ground stations and satellites, clear discrepancies exist for given regions and seasons, indicating a need for more accurate spatial and time distributions of emissions. Limitations of current emission control polices are analyzed based on the estimated emission trends. Compared with control of total PM, there are fewer gains in control of fine particles and carbonaceous aerosols, the PM components most responsible for damages to public health and effects on radiative forcing. A much faster decrease of alkaline base cations in primary PM than that of SO2 may have raised the acidification risks to ecosystems, indicating further control of acid precursors is required. Moreover, with relatively strict controls in developed urban areas, air pollution challenges have been expanding to less-developed neighboring regions. There is a great need in the future for multipollutant control strategies that combine recognition of diverse environmental impacts both in urban and rural areas with emission abatement of multiple species in concert. To examine the effects of China’s national policies of energy conservation and emission control during 2005–2010, inter-annual emission trends of gaseous pollutants, primary aerosols, and CO2 are estimated with a bottom-up framework. The control measures led to improved energy efficiency and/or increased penetration of emission control devices at power plants and other important industrial sources, yielding reduced emission factors for all evaluated species except NOx. The national emissions of anthropogenic SO2, CO, and total primary PM (particulate matter) in 2010 are estimated to have been 89%, 108%, and 87% of those in 2005, respectively, suggesting successful emission control of those species despite fast growth of the economy and energy consumption during the period. The emissions of NOx and CO2, however, are estimated to have increased by 47% and 43%, respectively, indicating that they remain largely determined by the growth of energy use, industrial production, and vehicle populations. Based on application of a Monte-Carlo framework, estimated uncertainties of SO2 and PM emissions increased from 2005 to 2010, resulting mainly from poorly understood average SO2 removal efficiency in flue gas desulfurization (FGD) systems in the power sector, and unclear changes in the penetration levels of dust collectors at industrial sources, respectively. While emission trends determined by bottom-up methods can be generally verified by observations from both ground stations and satellites, clear discrepancies exist for given regions and seasons, indicating a need for more accurate spatial and time distributions of emissions. Limitations of current emission control polices are analyzed based on the estimated emission trends. Compared with control of total PM, there are fewer gains in control of fine particles and carbonaceous aerosols, the PM components most responsible for damages to public health and effects on radiative forcing. A much faster decrease of alkaline base cations in primary PM than that of SO2 may have raised the acidification risks to ecosystems, indicating further control of acid precursors is required. Moreover, with relatively strict controls in developed urban areas, air pollution challenges have been expanding to less-developed neighboring regions. There is a great need in the future for multipollutant control strategies that combine recognition of diverse environmental impacts both in urban and rural areas with emission abatement of multiple species in concert.

Yu Zhao. 2013. “Primary Air Pollutant Emissions of Coal-Fired Power Plants in China.” In Clearer Skies Over China: Reconciling Air Quality, Climate, and Economic Goals, Pp. 161-202. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

A groundbreaking U.S.–Chinese inquiry into the effects of recent air pollution controls and prospective carbon taxes on China's economy and environment.

China's carbon dioxide emissions now outstrip those of other countries and its domestic air quality is severely degraded, especially in urban areas. Its sheer size and its growing, fossil-fuel-powered economy mean that China's economic and environmental policy choices will have an outsized effect on the global environmental future. Over the last decade, China has pursued policies that target both fossil fuel use and atmospheric emissions, but these efforts have been substantially overwhelmed by the country's increasing energy demands. With a billion citizens still living on less than $4,000 per year, China's energy and environmental policies must be reconciled with the goals of maintaining economic growth and raising living standards.

This book, a U.S.–Chinese collaboration of experts from Harvard and Tsinghua University, offers a groundbreaking integrated analysis of China's economy, emissions, air quality, public health, and agriculture. It first offers essential scientific context and accessible summaries of the book's policy findings; it then provides the underlying scientific and economic research. These studies suggest that China's recent sulfur controls achieved enormous environmental health benefits at unexpectedly low costs. They also indicate that judicious implementation of carbon taxes could reduce not only China's carbon emissions but also its air pollution more comprehensively than current single-pollutant policies, all at little cost to economic growth.

Chris P Nielsen, Mun S Ho, Jing Cao, Yu Lei, Yuxuan Wang, and Yu Zhao. 2013. “Summary: Carbon Taxes for 2013-2020.” In Clearer Skies Over China: Reconciling Air Quality, Climate, and Economic Goals, Pp. 103-157. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

A groundbreaking U.S.–Chinese inquiry into the effects of recent air pollution controls and prospective carbon taxes on China's economy and environment.

China's carbon dioxide emissions now outstrip those of other countries and its domestic air quality is severely degraded, especially in urban areas. Its sheer size and its growing, fossil-fuel-powered economy mean that China's economic and environmental policy choices will have an outsized effect on the global environmental future. Over the last decade, China has pursued policies that target both fossil fuel use and atmospheric emissions, but these efforts have been substantially overwhelmed by the country's increasing energy demands. With a billion citizens still living on less than $4,000 per year, China's energy and environmental policies must be reconciled with the goals of maintaining economic growth and raising living standards.

This book, a U.S.–Chinese collaboration of experts from Harvard and Tsinghua University, offers a groundbreaking integrated analysis of China's economy, emissions, air quality, public health, and agriculture. It first offers essential scientific context and accessible summaries of the book's policy findings; it then provides the underlying scientific and economic research. These studies suggest that China's recent sulfur controls achieved enormous environmental health benefits at unexpectedly low costs. They also indicate that judicious implementation of carbon taxes could reduce not only China's carbon emissions but also its air pollution more comprehensively than current single-pollutant policies, all at little cost to economic growth.

Chris P Nielsen, Mun S Ho, Yu Zhao, Yuxuan Wang, Yu Lei, and Jing Cao. 2013. “Summary: Sulfur Mandates and Carbon Taxes for 2006-2010.” In Clearer Skies Over China: Reconciling Air Quality, Climate, and Economic Goals, Pp. 59-102. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

A groundbreaking U.S.–Chinese inquiry into the effects of recent air pollution controls and prospective carbon taxes on China's economy and environment.

China's carbon dioxide emissions now outstrip those of other countries and its domestic air quality is severely degraded, especially in urban areas. Its sheer size and its growing, fossil-fuel-powered economy mean that China's economic and environmental policy choices will have an outsized effect on the global environmental future. Over the last decade, China has pursued policies that target both fossil fuel use and atmospheric emissions, but these efforts have been substantially overwhelmed by the country's increasing energy demands. With a billion citizens still living on less than $4,000 per year, China's energy and environmental policies must be reconciled with the goals of maintaining economic growth and raising living standards.

This book, a U.S.–Chinese collaboration of experts from Harvard and Tsinghua University, offers a groundbreaking integrated analysis of China's economy, emissions, air quality, public health, and agriculture. It first offers essential scientific context and accessible summaries of the book's policy findings; it then provides the underlying scientific and economic research. These studies suggest that China's recent sulfur controls achieved enormous environmental health benefits at unexpectedly low costs. They also indicate that judicious implementation of carbon taxes could reduce not only China's carbon emissions but also its air pollution more comprehensively than current single-pollutant policies, all at little cost to economic growth.

2012
Yu Zhao, Chris P Nielsen, and Michael B. McElroy. 2012. “China's CO2 emissions estimated from the bottom up: Recent trends, spatial distributions, and quantification of uncertainties.” Atmospheric Environment, 59, Pp. 214-223. Publisher's VersionAbstract
China's emissions of anthropogenic CO2 are estimated using a bottom-up emission inventory framework based on a detailed categorization of economic sectors and provincial economic and energy data. It includes a newly compiled database of CO2 emission factors employing the latest field study results from China. Total annual emissions are estimated to have risen from 7126 to 9370 Mt CO2 from 2005 to 2009. Recent policies to conserve energy and reduce emissions have been effective in limiting CO2 emissions from power and iron & steel plants, but have had little effect on those from cement production. The uncertainties of China's CO2 emissions are quantified for the first time using Monte-Carlo simulation, producing a 95% confidence interval (CI) of −9% to +11% for total emissions in 2005. The largest contributors to sector-level emission uncertainty are emission factors for most industrial sources and activity levels for power plants, transportation, and residential & commercial sources. Application of province-level energy consumption and China-specific emission factors in some sectors results in higher annual emission estimates for 2005-2008 as compared with other studies, although most of those are within the 95% CIs of this study.
Yu Zhao, Chris P Nielsen, Michael B. McElroy, Lin Zhang, and Jie Zhang. 2012. “CO emissions in China: Uncertainties and implications of improved energy efficiency and emission control.” Atmospheric Environment, 49, Pp. 103-113. Publisher's VersionAbstract
A bottom-up methodology and an improved database of emission factors combining the latest domestic field measurements are developed to estimate the emissions of anthropogenic CO from China at national and provincial levels. The CO emission factors for major economic sectors declined to varying degrees from 2005 to 2009, attributed to improved energy efficiency and/or emission control regulations. Total national CO emissions are estimated at 173 Tg for 2005 and have been relatively stable for subsequent years, despite fast growth of energy consumption and industrial production. While industry and transportation sources dominated CO emissions in developed eastern and north-central China, residential combustion played a much greater role in the less developed western provinces. The uncertainties of national Chinese CO emissions are quantified using Monte Carlo simulation at −20% to +45% (95% confidence interval). Due to poor understanding of emission factors and activity levels for combustion of solid fuels, the largest uncertainties are found for emissions from the residential sector. The trends of bottom-up emissions compare reasonably to satellite observation of CO columns and to ground observations of CO2–CO correlation slopes. The increase in the ratio for emissions of CO2 relative to CO suggests that China has successfully improved combustion efficiencies across its economy in recent years, consistent with national policies to improve energy efficiency and to control criteria air pollutants.
2011
Yu Zhao, Michael B. McElroy, Jia Xing, Lei Duan, Chris P Nielsen, Yu Lei, and Jiming Hao. 2011. “Multiple effects and uncertainties of emission control policies in China: Public health, soil acidification, and global temperature.” Science of the Total Environment , 409, 24, Pp. 5177-5187. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Policies to control emissions of criteria pollutants in China may have conflicting impacts on public health, soil acidification, and climate. Two scenarios for 2020, a base case without anticipated control measures and a more realistic case including such controls, are evaluated to quantify the effects of the policies on emissions and resulting environmental outcomes. Large benefits to public health can be expected from the controls, attributed mainly to reduced emissions of primary PM and gaseous PM precursors, and thus lower ambient concentrations of PM2.5. Approximately 4% of all-cause mortality in the country can be avoided (95% confidence interval: 1–7%), particularly in eastern and north-central China, regions with large population densities and high levels of PM2.5. Surface ozone levels, however, are estimated to increase in parts of those regions, despite NOX reductions. This implies VOC-limited conditions. Even with significant reduction of SO2 and NOX emissions, the controls will not significantly mitigate risks of soil acidification, judged by the exceedance levels of critical load (CL). This is due to the decrease in primary PM emissions, with the consequent reduction in deposition of alkaline base cations. Compared to 2005, even larger CL exceedances are found for both scenarios in 2020, implying that PM control may negate any recovery from soil acidification due to SO2 reductions. Noting large uncertainties, current polices to control emissions of criteria pollutants in China will not reduce climate warming, since controlling SO2 emissions also reduces reflective secondary aerosols. Black carbon emission is an important source of uncertainty concerning the effects of Chinese control policies on global temperature change. Given these conflicts, greater consideration should be paid to reconciling varied environmental objectives, and emission control strategies should target not only criteria pollutants but also species such as VOCs and CO2.
Yu Zhao, Chris P Nielsen, Yu Lei, Michael B. McElroy, and Jiming Hao. 2011. “Quantifying the uncertainties of a bottom-up emission inventory of anthropogenic atmospheric pollutants in China.” Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 11, Pp. 2295-2308. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The uncertainties of a national, bottom-up inventory
of Chinese emissions of anthropogenic SO2, NOx, and
particulate matter (PM) of different size classes and carbonaceous
species are comprehensively quantified, for the first
time, using Monte Carlo simulation. The inventory is structured
by seven dominant sectors: coal-fired electric power,
cement, iron and steel, other industry (boiler combustion),
other industry (non-combustion processes), transportation,
and residential. For each parameter related to emission factors
or activity-level calculations, the uncertainties, represented
as probability distributions, are either statistically fitted
using results of domestic field tests or, when these are
lacking, estimated based on foreign or other domestic data.
The uncertainties (i.e., 95% confidence intervals around the
central estimates) of Chinese emissions of SO2, NOx, total
PM, PM10, PM2.5, black carbon (BC), and organic carbon
(OC) in 2005 are estimated to be −14%13%, −13%37%,
−11%38%, −14%45%, −17%54%, −25%136%,
and −40%121%, respectively. Variations at activity levels
(e.g., energy consumption or industrial production) are
not the main source of emission uncertainties. Due to narrow
classification of source types, large sample sizes, and
relatively high data quality, the coal-fired power sector is estimated
to have the smallest emission uncertainties for all
species except BC and OC. Due to poorer source classifications
and a wider range of estimated emission factors,
considerable uncertainties of NOx and PM emissions from
cement production and boiler combustion in other industries
are found. The probability distributions of emission
factors for biomass burning, the largest source of BC and
OC, are fitted based on very limited domestic field measurements,
and special caution should thus be taken interpreting
these emission uncertainties. Although Monte Carlo simulation
yields narrowed estimates of uncertainties compared
to previous bottom-up emission studies, the results are not
always consistent with those derived from satellite observations.
The results thus represent an incremental research
advance; while the analysis provides current estimates of
uncertainty to researchers investigating Chinese and global
atmospheric transport and chemistry, it also identifies specific
needs in data collection and analysis to improve on
them. Strengthened quantification of emissions of the included
species and other, closely associated ones – notably
CO2, generated largely by the same processes and thus subject
to many of the same parameter uncertainties – is essential
not only for science but for the design of policies to redress
critical atmospheric environmental hazards at local, regional,
and global scales.
Yu Zhao, Lei Duan, Yu Lei, Jia Xing, Chris P Nielsen, and Jiming Hao. 2011. “Will PM control undermine China's efforts to reduce soil acidification?” Environmental Pollution, 159, 10, Pp. 2726-2732. Publisher's VersionAbstract
China’s strategies to control acidifying pollutants and particulate matter (PM) may be in conflict for soil acidification abatement. Acidifying pollutant emissions are estimated for 2005 and 2020 with anticipated control policies. PM emissions including base cations (BCs) are evaluated with two scenarios, a base case applying existing policy to 2020, and a control case including anticipated tightened measures. Depositions of sulfur (S), nitrogen (N) and BCs are simulated and their acidification risks are evaluated with critical load (CL). In 2005, the area exceeding CL covered 15.6% of mainland China, with total exceedance of 2.2 Mt S. These values decrease in the base scenario 2020, implying partial recovery from acidification. Under more realistic PM control, the respective estimates are 17.9% and 2.4 Mt S, indicating increased acidification risks due to abatement of acid-neutralizing BCs. China’s anthropogenic PM abatement will have potentially stronger chemical implications for acidification than developed countries.
2010
Yu Zhao, Shuxiao Wang, Chris P Nielsen, Xinghua Li, and Jiming Hao. 2010. “Establishment of a database of emission factors for atmospheric pollutant emissions from Chinese coal-fired power plants.” Atmospheric Environment, 44, 12, Pp. 1515-1523. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Field measurements and data investigations were conducted for developing an emission factor database for inventories of atmospheric pollutants from Chinese coal-fired power plants. Gaseous pollutants and particulate matter (PM) of different size fractions were measured using a gas analyzer and an electric low-pressure impactor (ELPI), respectively, for ten units in eight coal-fired power plants across the country. Combining results of field tests and literature surveys, emission factors with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated by boiler type, fuel quality, and emission control devices using bootstrap and Monte Carlo simulations. The emission factor of uncontrolled SO2 from pulverized combustion (PC) boilers burning bituminous or anthracite coal was estimated to be 18.0S kg t−1 (i.e., 18.0 × the percentage sulfur content of coal, S) with a 95% CI of 17.2S–18.5S. NOX emission factors for pulverized-coal boilers ranged from 4.0 to 11.2 kg t−1, with uncertainties of 14–45% for different unit types. The emission factors of uncontrolled PM2.5, PM10, and total PM emitted by PC boilers were estimated to be 0.4A (where A is the percentage ash content of coal), 1.5A and 6.9A kg t−1, respectively, with 95% CIs of 0.3A–0.5A, 1.1A–1.9A and 5.8A–7.9A. The analogous PM values for emissions with electrostatic precipitator (ESP) controls were 0.032A (95% CI: 0.021A–0.046A), 0.065A (0.039A–0.092A) and 0.094A (0.0656A–0.132A) kg t−1, and 0.0147A (0.0092–0.0225A), 0.0210A (0.0129A–0.0317A), and 0.0231A (0.0142A–0.0348A) for those with both ESP and wet flue-gas desulfurization (wet-FGD). SO2 and NOX emission factors for Chinese power plants were smaller than those of U.S. EPA AP-42 database, due mainly to lower heating values of coals in China. PM emission factors for units with ESP, however, were generally larger than AP-42 values, because of poorer removal efficiencies of Chinese dust collectors. For units with advanced emission control technologies, more field measurements are needed to reduce emission factor uncertainties.
Jintai Lin, Chris P Nielsen, Yu Zhao, Yu Lei, Yang Liu, and Michael B. McElroy. 2010. “Recent changes in particulate air pollution over China observed from space and ground: Effectiveness of emission control.” Environmental Science and Technology, 44, 20, Pp. 7771-7776. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The Chinese government has moved aggressively since 2005 to reduce emissions of a number of pollutants including primary particulate matter (PM) and sulfur dioxide (SO2), efforts inadvertently aided since late 2008 by economic recession. Satellite observations of aerosol optical depth (AOD) and column nitrogen dioxide (NO2) provide independent indicators of emission trends, clearly reflecting the sharp onset of the recession in the fall of 2008 and rebound of the economy in the latter half of 2009. Comparison of AOD with ground-based observations of PM over a longer period indicate that emission-control policies have not been successful in reducing concentrations of aerosol pollutants at smaller size range over industrialized regions of China. The lack of success is attributed to the increasing importance of anthropogenic secondary aerosols formed from precursor species including nitrogen oxides (NOx), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC), and ammonia (NH3).
2009
Yu Zhao, Lei Duan, Jia Xing, Thorjorn Larssen, Chris P Nielsen, and Jiming Hao. 2009. “Soil acidification in China: Is controlling SO2 emissions enough?” Environmental Science and Technology, 43, 21, Pp. 8021-8026. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Facing challenges of increased energy consumption and related regional air pollution, China has been aggressively implementing flue gas desulfurization (FGD) and phasing out small inefficient units in the power sector in order to achieve the national goal of 10% reduction in sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions from 2005 to 2010. In this paper, the effect of these measures on soil acidification is explored. An integrated methodology is used, combining emission inventory data, emission forecasts, air quality modeling, and ecological sensitivities indicated by critical load. National emissions of SO2, oxides of nitrogen (NOX), particulate matter (PM), and ammonia (NH3) in 2005 were estimated to be 30.7, 19.6, 31.3, and 16.6 Mt, respectively. Implementation of existing policy will lead to reductions in SO2 and PM emissions, while those of NOX and NH3 will continue to rise, even under tentatively proposed control measures. In 2005, the critical load for soil acidification caused by sulfur (S) deposition was exceeded in 28% of the country’s territory, mainly in eastern and south-central China. The area in exceedance will decrease to 26% and 20% in 2010 and 2020, respectively, given implementation of current plans for emission reductions. However, the exceedance of the critical load for nitrogen (N, combining effects of eutrophication and acidification) will double from 2005 to 2020 due to increased NOX and NH3 emissions. Combining the acidification effects of S and N, the benefits of SO2 reductions during 2005−2010 will almost be negated by increased N emissions. Therefore abatement of N emissions (NOX and NH3) and deposition will be a major challenge to China, requiring policy development and technology investments. To mitigate acidification in the future, China needs a multipollutant control strategy that integrates measures to reduce S, N, and PM.