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Sustainability 2018, 10(1), 30; doi:10.3390/su10010030

Evaluation of Future Water Use for Electricity Generation under Different Energy Development Scenarios in China

Academy of Chinese Energy Strategy, China University of Petroleum—Beijing, Beijing 104429, China
Department of Geography and Resource Management, and Institute of Environment, Energy and Sustainability, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 16 October 2017 / Revised: 15 December 2017 / Accepted: 15 December 2017 / Published: 23 December 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Electric Power Systems Research)
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Water scarcity and uneven water demand in regional electricity generation pose substantial challenges to the sustainable development of water resources and electricity production in China. Based on the latest official policy of China’s electricity development, i.e., the 13th Five-Year Plan of electricity development, this study quantified annual water withdrawal and consumption for future electricity generation in China from 2015 to 2030. This study simulated a three-prong approach to impacting water use for electricity development, i.e., updating the cooling technology mix, increasing non-thermal power generation and relocating thermal power plants to the west. The results showed that solutions to relieve water stress caused by electricity production entail major trade-offs. Annual water withdrawal and consumption were projected to exceed 63.75 and 8.30 billion m3 by 2030, up approximately 14% and 21% of those in 2015, respectively, if China does not implement any new water and energy policies. Replacing once-through cooling systems with closed-loop cooling systems would decrease national water withdrawal remarkably but increase water consumption. The west-centered spatial distribution of thermoelectric power generation would reduce water use at the national level; however, it will largely increase water stress in northern and northwestern China. Thus, relieving the stress of growing electricity demand on water resources in China requires comprehensive measures and quantitative estimates. View Full-Text
Keywords: electricity generation; water consumption; water withdrawal; energy policy; scenario analysis electricity generation; water consumption; water withdrawal; energy policy; scenario analysis

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Lin, L.; Chen, Y.D. Evaluation of Future Water Use for Electricity Generation under Different Energy Development Scenarios in China. Sustainability 2018, 10, 30.

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