Energy & Grid

In Press
Jing Cao, Mun S Ho, and Rong Ma. In Press. “Analyzing Carbon Pricing Policies using a General Equilibrium Model with Production Parameters Estimated using Firm Data.” Energy Economics.Abstract

Policy simulation results of Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) models largely hinge on the choices of substitution elasticities among key input factors. Currently, most CGE models rely on the common elasticities estimated from aggregated data, such as the GTAP model elasticity parameters. Using firm level data, we apply the control function method to estimate CES production functions with capital, labor and energy inputs and find significant heterogeneity in substitution elasticities across different industries. Our capital-labor substitution elasticities are much lower than the GTAP values while our energy elasticities are higher. We then incorporate these estimated elasticities into a CGE model to simulate China’s carbon pricing policies and compare with the results using GTAP parameters. Our less elastic K-L substitution lead to lower base case GDP growth, but our more elastic energy substitution lead to lower coal use and carbon emissions. In the carbon tax policy exercises, we find that our elasticities lead to easier reductions in coal use and carbon emissions.

Hewen Zhou, Qing Yang, Pietro Bartocci, Francesco Fantozzi, Ondřej Mašek, Foster A. Agblevor, Zhiyu Wei, Haiping Yang, Hanping Chen, Xi Lu, Guoqing Chen, Chuguang Zheng, Chris P. Nielsen, and Michael B. McElroy. In Press. “Prospective contributions of biomass pyrolysis to China’s 2050 carbon reduction and renewable energy goals.” Nature Communications.
Tianguang Lu, Xinyu Chen, Michael B. McElroy, Chris Nielsen, Wu Qiuwei, and Qian Ai. In Press. “A reinforcement learning-based decision system for electricity pricing plan selection by smart grid end users.” IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid.
2020
Fei Xiao, Tianguang Lu, Qian Ai, Xiaolong Wang, Xinyu Chen, Sidun Fang, and Qiuwei Wu. 2020. “Design and implementation of a data-driven approach to visualizing power quality.” IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid, 114, DOI: 10.1109/TSG.2020.2985767. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Numerous underlying causes of power-quality (PQ) disturbances have enhanced the application of situational awareness to power systems. This application provides an optimal overall response for contingencies. With measurement data acquired by a multi-source PQ monitoring system, we propose an interactive visualization tool for PQ disturbance data based on a geographic information system (GIS). This tool demonstrates the spatio–temporal distribution of the PQ disturbance events and the cross-correlation between PQ records and environmental factors, leveraging Getis statistics and random matrix theory. A methodology based on entity matching is also introduced to analyze the underlying causes of PQ disturbance events. Based on real-world data obtained from an actual power system, offline and online PQ data visualization scenarios are provided to verify the effectiveness and robustness of the proposed framework.
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.
Peter Sherman, Xinyu Chen, and Michael B. McElroy. 2020. “Offshore wind: an opportunity for cost-competitive decarbonization of China’s energy economy.” Science Advances, 6, 8, Pp. eaax9571. Publisher's VersionAbstract
China has reduced growth in its emissions of greenhouse gases, success attributable in part due to major investments in onshore wind. By comparison, investments in offshore wind have been minor, limited until recently largely by perceptions of cost. Assimilated meteorological data are used here to assess future offshore wind potential for China. Analysis on a provincial basis indicates that the aggregate potential wind resource is 5.4 times larger than current coastal demand for power. Recent experiences with markets both in Europe and the US suggest that potential offshore resources in China could be exploited to cost-competitively provide 1148.3 TWh of energy in a high-cost scenario, 6383.4 TWh in a low-cost option, equivalent to between 36% and 200% of the total coastal energy demand post 2020. The analysis underscores significant benefits for offshore wind for China, with prospects for major reductions greenhouse emissions with ancillary benefits for air quality.
Science_Advances_Full_Text.pdf
Yu Wang, Dasaraden Mauree, Qie Sun, Haiyang Lin, Jean-Louis Scartezzini, and Ronald Wennersten. 2020. “A review of approaches to low-carbon transition of high-rise residential buildings in China.” Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 131, October 2020, Pp. 109990. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In developing countries with a large population and fast urbanization, High-rise Residential Buildings (HRBs) have unavoidably become a very common, if not the most, accommodation solution. The paradigm of HRB energy consumption is characterized by high-density energy consumption, severe peak effects and a limited site area for integrating renewable energy, which constitute a hindrance to the low-carbon transition. This review paper investigates low-carbon transition efforts in the HRB sector from the perspective of urban energy systems to get a holistic view of their approaches. The HRB sector plays a significant role in reducing carbon emission and improving the resilience of urban energy systems. Different approaches to an HRB low-carbon transition are investigated and a brief overview of potential solutions is offered from the perspectives of improving energy efficiency, self-sufficiency and system resilience. The trends of decarbonization, decentralization and digitalization in the HRB sector allow a better alignment with transitioning urban energy systems and create cross-sectoral integration opportunities for low-carbon transition. It is also found that policy tools are powerful driving forces in China for incentivizing transition behaviors among utilities, end users and developers. Based on a comprehensive policy review, the policy implications are given. The research is geared for the situation in China but could also be used as an example for other developing countries that have similar urbanization patterns. Future research should focus on quantitative analysis, life-cycle analysis and transdisciplinary planning approaches.

2019
Xi Lu, Liang Cao, Haikun Wang, Wei Peng, Jia Xing, Shuxiao Wang, Siyi Cai, Bo Shen, Qing Yang, Chris P. Nielsen, and Michael B. McElroy. 2019. “Gasification of coal and biomass as a net carbon-negative power source for environment-friendly electricity generation in China.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116, 17, Pp. 8206-8213. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Realizing the goal of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 2 °C by the end of this century will most likely require deployment of carbon-negative technologies. It is particularly important that China, as the world’s top carbon emitter, avoids being locked into carbon-intensive, coal-fired power-generation technologies and undertakes a smooth transition from high- to negative-carbon electricity production. We focus here on deploying a combination of coal and biomass energy to produce electricity in China using an integrated gasification cycle system combined with carbon capture and storage (CBECCS). Such a system will also reduce air pollutant emissions, thus contributing to China’s near-term goal of improving air quality. We evaluate the bus-bar electricity-generation prices for CBECCS with mixing ratios of crop residues varying from 0 to 100%, as well as associated costs for carbon mitigation and cobenefits for air quality. We find that CBECCS systems employing a crop residue ratio of 35% could produce electricity with net-zero life-cycle emissions of greenhouse gases, with a levelized cost of electricity of no more than 9.2 US cents per kilowatt hour. A carbon price of approximately $52.0 per ton would make CBECCS cost-competitive with pulverized coal power plants. Therefore, our results provide critical insights for designing a CBECCS strategy in China to harness near-term air-quality cobenefits while laying the foundation for achieving negative carbon emissions in the long run.
PNAS paper.pdf
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, 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.
China’s CO2 peak before 2030 implied from diverse characteristics and growth of cities
Haikun Wang, Xi Lu, Yu Deng, Yaoguang Sun, Chris P. Nielsen, Yifan Liu, Ge Zhu, Maoliang Bu, Jun Bi, and Michael B. McElroy. 2019. “China’s CO2 peak before 2030 implied from diverse characteristics and growth of cities.” Nature Sustainability, 2, Pp. 748–754. Publisher's VersionAbstract

China pledges to peak CO2 emissions by 2030 or sooner under the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 2 °C or less by the end of the century. By examining CO2 emissions from 50 Chinese cities over the period 2000–2016, we found a close relationship between per capita emissions and per capita gross domestic product (GDP) for individual cities, following the environmental Kuznets curve, despite diverse trajectories for CO2 emissions across the cities. Results show that carbon emissions peak for most cities at a per capita GDP (in 2011 purchasing power parity) of around US$21,000 (80% confidence interval: US$19,000 to 22,000). Applying a Monte Carlo approach to simulate the peak of per capita emissions using a Kuznets function based on China’s historical emissions, we project that emissions for China should peak at 13–16 GtCO2 yr−1 between 2021 and 2025, approximately 5–10 yr ahead of the current Paris target of 2030. We show that the challenges faced by individual types of Chinese cities in realizing low-carbon development differ significantly depending on economic structure, urban form and geographical location.

Ran Hao, Tianguang Lu, Qiuwei Wu, Xinyu Chen, and Qian Ai. 2019. “Distributed piecewise approximation economic dispatch for regional power systems under non-ideal communication.” IEEE Access, 7. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Appropriate distributed economic dispatch (DED) strategies are of great importance to manage wide-area controllable generators in wide-area regional power systems. Compared with existing works related to ED, where dispatch algorithms are carried out by a centralized controller, a practical DED scheme is proposed in this paper to achieve the optimal dispatch by appropriately allocating the load to generation units while guaranteeing consensus among incremental costs. The ED problem is decoupled into several parallel sub-problems by the primal-dual principle to address the computational issue of satisfying power balance between the demand and the supply from the distributed regional power system. The feasibility test and an innovative mechanism for unit commitment are then designed to handle extreme operation situations, such as low load level and surplus generation. In the designed mechanism, the on/off status of units is determined in a fully distributed framework, which is solved using the piecewise approximation method and the discrete consensus algorithm. In the algorithm, the push-sum protocol is proposed to increase the system adaptation on the time-varying communication topology. Moreover, consensus gain functions are designed to ensure the performance of the proposed DED under communication noise. Case studies on a standard IEEE 30-bus system demonstrate the effectiveness of our proposed methodology
IEEE_Full_Text
Jing Cao, Mun S Ho, and Wenhao Hu. 2019. “Energy consumption of urban households in China.” China Economic Review, 58, 101343. Publisher's VersionAbstract
We estimate China urban household energy demand as part of a complete system of consumption demand so that it can be used in economy-wide models. This allows us to derive cross-price elasticities unlike studies which focus on one type of energy. We implement a two-stage approach and explicitly account for electricity, domestic fuels and transportation demand in the first stage and gasoline, coal, LPG and gas demand in the second stage. We find income inelastic demand for electricity and home energy, but the elasticity is higher than estimates in the rich countries. Demand for total transportation is income elastic. The price elasticity for electricity is estimated to be −0.5 and in the range of other estimates for China, and similar to long-run elasticities estimated for the U.S.
Xingning Han, Xinyu Chen, Michael B. McElroy, Shiwu Liao, Chris P. Nielsen, and Jinyu Wen. 2019. “Modeling formulation and validation for accelerated simulation and flexibility assessment on large scale power systems under higher renewable penetrations.” Applied Energy, 237, Pp. 145-154. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Deploying high penetration of variable renewables represents a critical pathway for decarbonizing the power sector. Hydro power (including pumped-hydro), batteries, and fast responding thermal units are essential in providing system flexibility at elevated renewable penetration. How to quantify the merit of flexibility from these sources in accommodating variable renewables, and to evaluate the operational costs considering system flexibility constraints have been central challenges for future power system planning. This paper presents an improved linear formulation of the unit commitment model adopting unit grouping techniques to expedite evaluation of the curtailment of renewables and operational costs for large-scale power systems. All decision variables in this formulation are continuous, and all chronological constraints are formulated subsequently. Tested based on actual data from a regional power system in China, the computational speed of the model is more than 20,000 times faster than the rigorous unit commitment model, with less than 1% difference in results. Hourly simulation for an entire year takes less than 3 min. The results demonstrate strong potential to apply the proposed model to long term planning related issues, such as flexibility assessment, wind curtailment analysis, and operational cost evaluation, which could set a methodological foundation for evaluating the optimal combination of wind, solar and hydro investments.
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, Pp. 1-18. 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
Hongjian Wei, Wenzhi Liu, Xinyu Chen, Qing Yang, Jiashuo Li, and Hanping Chen. 2019. “Renewable bio-jet fuel production for aviation: a review.” Fuel, 254. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Due to excessive greenhouse gas emissions and high dependence on traditional petroleum jet fuel, the sustainable development of the aviation industry has drawn increasing attention worldwide. One of the most promising strategies is to develop and industrialize alternative aviation fuels produced from renewable resources, e.g. biomass. Renewable bio-jet fuel has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions over their life cycle, which make bio-jet fuels an attractive substitution for aviation fuels. This paper provided an overview on the conversion technologies, economic assessment, environmental influence and development status of bio-jet fuels. The results suggested that hydrogenated esters and fatty acids, and Fischer-Tropsch synthesis can be the most promising technologies for bio-jet fuels production in near term. Future works, such as searching for more suitable feedstock, improving competitiveness for alternative jet fuels, meeting emission reduction targets in large-scale production and making measures for the indirect impact are needed for further investigation. The large-scale deployment of bio-jet fuels could achieve significant potentials of both bio-jet fuels production and CO2 emissions reduction based on future available biomass feedstock.

2018
Xinyu Chen, Junling Huang, Qing Yang, Chris P. Nielsen, Dongbo Shi, and Michael B. McElroy. 2018. “Changing carbon content of Chinese coal and implications for emissions of CO2.” Journal of Cleaner Production, 194, Pp. 150-157. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The changing carbon content of coal consumed in China between 2002 and 2012 is quantified using information from the power sector. The carbon content decreased by 7.7% over this interval, the decrease particularly pronounced between 2007 and 2009. Inferences with respect to the changing carbon content of coal and the oxidation rate for its consumption, combined with the recent information on coal use in China, are employed to evaluate the trend in emissions of CO2. Emissions are estimated to have increased by 158% between 2002 and 2012, from 3.9 Gt y-1 to 9.2 Gt y-1. Our estimated emissions for 2005 are notably consistent with data reported by China in its “Second National Communication” to the UN (NDRC, 2012) and significantly higher than the estimation published recently in Nature. The difference is attributed, among other factors, to the assumption of a constant carbon content of coal in the latter study. The results indicate that CO2 emissions of China in 2005 reported by Second National Communication are more reliable to serve as the baseline for China's future carbon commitments (e.g. those in Paris Agreement of the UNFCCC). Discrepancies between national and provincial statistics on coal production and consumption are investigated and attributed primarily to anomalous reporting on interprovincial trade in four heavily industrialized provinces.

Qing Yang, Hewen Zhou, Xiaoyan Zhang, Chris P. Nielsen, Jiashuo Li, Xi Lu, Haiping Yang, and Hanping Chen. 2018. “Hybrid life-cycle assessment for energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of a typical biomass gasification power plant in China.” Journal of Cleaner Production, 205, Pp. 661-671. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Among biomass energy technologies which are treated as the promising way to mitigate critical energy crisis and global climate change, biomass gasification plays a key role given to its gaseous fuels especially syngas for distributed power plant. However, a system analysis for the energy saving and greenhouse gas emissions abatement potentials of gasification system has been directed few attentions. This study presents a system analysis that combines process and input-output analyses of GHG emissions and energy costs throughout the full chain of activities associated with biomass gasification. Incorporating agricultural production, industrial process and wastewater treatment which is always ignored, the energy inputs in life cycle are accounted for the first commercial biomass gasification power plant in China. Results show that the non-renewable energy cost and GHG emission intensity of the biomass gasification system are 0.163 MJ/MJ and 0.137 kg CO2-eq/MJ respectively, which reaffirm its advantages over coal-fired power plants in clean energy and environmental terms. Compared with other biomass energy processes, gasification performs well as its non-renewable energy cost and CO2 intensity are in the central ranges of those for all of these technologies. Construction of the plant is an important factor in the process’s non-renewable energy consumption, contributing about 44.48% of total energy use. Wastewater treatment is the main contributor to GHG emissions. The biomass gasification and associated wastewater treatment technologies have critical influence on the sustainability and renewability of biomass gasification. The results provide comprehensive analysis for biomass gasification performance and technology improvement potential in regulating biomass development policies for aiming to achieve sustainability globally.

Meng Gao, Gufran Beig, Shaojie Song, Hongliang Zhang, Jianlin Hu, Qi Ying, Fengchao Liang, Yang Liu, Haikun Wang, Xiao Lu, Tong Zhu, Gregory Carmichael, Chris P. Nielsen, and Michael B. McElroy. 2018. “The impact of power generation emissions on ambient PM2.5 pollution and human health in China and India.” Environment International, 121, Part 1, Pp. 250-259. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Emissions from power plants in China and India contain a myriad of fine particulate matter (PM2.5, PM≤2.5 micrometers in diameter) precursors, posing significant health risks among large, densely settled populations. Studies isolating the contributions of various source classes and geographic regions are limited in China and India, but such information could be helpful for policy makers attempting to identify efficient mitigation strategies. We quantified the impact of power generation emissions on annual mean PM2.5 concentrations using the state-of-the-art atmospheric chemistry model WRF-Chem (Weather Research Forecasting model coupled with Chemistry) in China and India. Evaluations using nationwide surface measurements show the model performs reasonably well. We calculated province-specific annual changes in mortality and life expectancy due to power generation emissions generated PM2.5 using the Integrated Exposure Response (IER) model, recently updated IER parameters from Global Burden of Disease (GBD) 2015, population data, and the World Health Organization (WHO) life tables for China and India. We estimate that 15 million (95% Confidence Interval (CI): 10 to 21 million) years of life lost can be avoided in China each year and 11 million (95% CI: 7 to 15 million) in India by eliminating power generation emissions. Priorities in upgrading existing power generating technologies should be given to Shandong, Henan, and Sichuan provinces in China, and Uttar Pradesh state in India due to their dominant contributions to the current health risks.

 

Xinyu Chen, Zhiwei Xu, Chris P Nielsen, and Michael B. McElroy. 2018. “Impacts of fleet types and charging modes for electric vehicles on emissions under different penetrations of wind power.” Nature Energy, 3, Pp. 413-421. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Current Chinese policy promotes the development of both electricity-propelled vehicles and carbon-free sources of power. Concern has been expressed that electric vehicles on average may emit more CO2 and conventional pollutants in China. Here, we explore the environmental implications of investments in different types of electric vehicle (public buses, taxis and private light-duty vehicles) and different modes (fast or slow) for charging under a range of different wind penetration levels. To do this, we take Beijing in 2020 as a case study and employ hourly simulation of vehicle charging behaviour and power system operation. Assuming the slow-charging option, we find that investments in electric private light-duty vehicles can result in an effective reduction in the emission of CO2 at several levels of wind penetration. The fast-charging option, however, is counter-productive. Electrifying buses and taxis offers the most effective option to reduce emissions of NOx, a major precursor for air pollution.
Qing Yang, Ji Liang, Jiashuo Li, Haiping Yang, and Hanping Chen. 2018. “Life cycle water use of a biomass-based pyrolysis polygeneration system in China.” Applied Energy, 224, 15 August 2018, Pp. 469-480. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Water is essential for bioenergy production. Characterized as low carbon technology, crop-based bioenergy technology witnesses rapid development, inevitably putting pressure on global water resources. Therefore, it is crucial to carefully assess bioenergy technology’s overall impact on scarce water source for a sustainable bioenergy future. In this regard, this study aims to evaluate the life cycle water use of bioenergy from agricultural residues via the first pilot moving-bed pyrolysis polygeneration system in China. By using a tiered hybrid life cycle assessment, both direct and indirect water use are calculated. Results show life cycle water use is 3.89 L H2O/MJ and agricultural process dominates the total water use. Scenarios analysis shows different feedstock allocation ratios during agricultural production have striking influence on water use intensity. In addition, the choice of feedstock is another important influential factor. Under the 2020 Scenario in China’s 13th Five Year Plan, if all the bioenergy target could be met by polygeneration the estimated annual water use will be 6.6 billion m3, in magnitude up to around ten times the total water consumption in Denmark in 2013. In global scenario of potential feedstock available in 2060, the estimated water use for bioenergy produced by polygeneration will be 179-369 billion m3. Although the water use intensity of bioenergy production from agricultural residues by polygeneration is lower than that for other biomass conversion pathways, it is still higher than water intensity of conventional fossil energy products. Large-scale bioenergy production will have macroscopic effects on water demand. Finally, suggestions such as selecting high water-efficient biomass feedstock and reinforcing water-saving irrigation management to minimize water use in agriculture stage are proposed.

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