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Mitigating Sulfur Hexafluoride (SF6) Emission from Electrical Equipment in China

Institute of Energy, Environment, and Economy, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2018, 10(7), 2402;
Received: 13 June 2018 / Revised: 4 July 2018 / Accepted: 5 July 2018 / Published: 10 July 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Energy Sustainability)
Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) is a powerful greenhouse gas with high global warming potential. Future growth in SF6 use will be driven mainly by increasing demand for electricity and associated infrastructure in developing countries. In relation to electrical equipment, China currently produces the largest proportion of SF6 emissions. Because of the long lifetimes of electrical equipment, SF6 emissions are substantially different from its consumption, which has been used as an inaccurate proxy for emission estimations, i.e., the so-called “delayed emission effect.” This study established a model to estimate SF6 emissions by considering the delay through equipment survival, retirement curve, and equipment life cycles. Three scenarios were established to model the potential for mitigation of SF6 emissions from electrical equipment. The results showed considerable delayed effects in SF6 emissions associated with electrical equipment. By 2050, the cumulative delayed emission was projected to be 50–249 kt under the different scenarios, which would be 1.2–6.0 GtCO2e. Therefore, replacing emissions with consumption could overestimate actual short-term emissions by 1–2 times. Although electrification in end-use sectors and high penetration of renewables in generation could lower global emissions substantially, SF6 emissions by 2050 could still increase by 15 kt (i.e., 0.36 GtCO2e) if mitigation measures are not adopted. Thus, a low-carbon electricity roadmap should be complemented by careful management of electrical equipment. The potential for mitigation of SF6 emissions could be realized through demand-side management to reduce electricity demand and through technological improvements on the supply side to reduce leakage and increase recovery. View Full-Text
Keywords: SF6 emissions; electrical equipment; China; mitigation SF6 emissions; electrical equipment; China; mitigation
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Zhou, S.; Teng, F.; Tong, Q. Mitigating Sulfur Hexafluoride (SF6) Emission from Electrical Equipment in China. Sustainability 2018, 10, 2402.

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