Energy Use for Electricity Generation Requires an Assessment More Directly Relevant to Climate Change

Bruce E. Logan, Ruggero Rossi, Gahyun Baek, Le Shi, Jacqueline O'Connor, & Wei PengACS Energy Letters. 21 October 2020. 

In order to communicate the effects of changing energy consumption, the discourse surrounding energy should be altered to convey energy production in units unassociated in fuel combustion, to avoid exaggeration of energy used for the production of renewables, and present only the primary energy in fossil fuels for electricity production. 

The Critical Role of Policy Enforcement in Achieveinng Health, Air Quality & Climate Benefits from India's Clean Electricity Transition

Wei Peng, Hancheng Dai, Hao Guo, Pallav Purohit, Johannes Urpelainen, Fabian Wagner, Yazhen Qu, & Honglian Zhang. Environmental Science and Technology. Aug 2020. 

Although the Indian government has issued a series of clean air policies and low-carbon energy targets, a key barrier remains enforcement. Here, we quantify the importance of policy implementation in India’s electricity sector. The results underscore the important role of effectively implementing existing policies to simultaneously achieve air pollution, health, and carbon mitigation goals in India.

Potential Uses of Coal Methane in China and Associated Benefits for Air Quality, Health, and Climate

Mingyang Zhang, Jordaan Sarah M., Wei Peng, Qiang Zhang & Scot M. Miller. Environmental Science and Technology. August 2020. 

China recently set goals to capture and utilize methane from coal seams as a source of unconventional natural gas. We find that these goals would decrease the total carbon emissions, and that mitigated methane emissions dominate these reductions and confer a much larger climate benefit than would be expected. 

Enabling a Rapid and Just Transition Away from Coal in China

Gang He, Jiang Lin, Ying Zhang, Wenhua Zhang, Guilherme Larangeira, Chao Zhang, Wei Peng, Manzi Liu & Fuqiang Yang. One Earth. August 2020.

As the world's largest coal producer and consumer, China's transition from coal to cleaner energy sources is critical for achieving global decarbonization. This paper explores China's current coal-transition policies, their barriers, and the potential for an accelerated transition, as well as the associated environmental, human health, and employment and social justice issues that may arise from the transition.

Cross-State Air Polutting Transport Calls for More Centralization in India's Environment Federalism

Xinming Dum Hao Guo, Hongliang Zhang, Wei Peng, Johannes Urpelainen Atmospheric Pollution Research. July 2020. 

To understand the challenge of transboundary air pollution transfer in India, we use a detailed emissions inventory and a source-oriented chemical transport model to explore state-to-state flows of emissions within the world's largest democracy, India, where poor air quality has caused a public health crisis. To solve the air pollution crisis, India needs a more centralized form of environmental federalism.

An Ultra-Low Emission Coal Power Fleet for Cleaner but not Hotter Air

Yana Jin, Wei Peng, and Johannes Urpelainen. Environmental Research Letters. August 2020. 

Air pollution has galvanized opposition to coal-fired power generation, but counting on concerns over air pollution to promote a coal-to-renewables shift for addressing the climate threrat in the long run is a risky bet. By investing in an ultra-low emission (ULE) coal fleet, emerging countries can solve the air pollution problem in an affordable manner. Recognizing this reality, we call for an updated view of the role of coal power in emerging countries and in the global effort to avoid climate disruption. 

The Impact of Human Health Co-benefits on Evaluations of Global Climate Policy

Noah Scovronick, Mark Budolfson, Francis Dennig, Frank Errickson, Marc Fleurbaey, Wei Peng, Robert H. Socolow, Dean Spears & Fabian Wagner. Nature Communications. May 2019. 

Reductions in air pollutants emissions resulting from CO2 mitigation provide both the health co-benefits and the climate co-harms (as air emission pollutants produce net cooling overall). By relying on the modified RICE model, we find that when both co-benefits and co-harms are taken fully into account, optimal climate policy results in immediate net benefits globally, overturning previous findings from cost-benefit models that omit these effects.

Gasification of Coal and Biomass as a Net Carbon-negative Power Source for Environment-friendly Electricity Generation in China

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. PNAS. March 2019

We focus 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). We find that CBECCS systems employing a crop residue of 35% could produce electricity with net-zero life-cycle emissions of greenhouse gases. Our findings suggest that CBECCS strategy is a promising solution for China to achieve its both short-term air pollution abatement and long-term carbon mitigation goals. 

Managing China's Coal Power Plants for Multiple Environmental Objectives

Wei Peng, Fabian Wagner, M.V. Ramana, Haibo Zhai, Mitchell Small, Carole Dalin, Xin Zhang, Denise L. Mauzerall. Nature Sustainability. November 2018. 

We find lower CO2 emissions in 2030 than 2015 only with substantial renewable generation or low projected electricity demand. Meanwhile, we observe lower air pollution and water impacts when current regulations and prices for air pollutant emissions and water are imposed on coal power plants. Increasing the price of air emissions or water alone can lead to a tradeoff between these two objectives, mainly driven by differences between air pollution-oriented and water-oriented transmission system designs that influence where coal units will be built and retired.

Air Quality-Carbon-Water Synergies and Tradeoffs in China's Natural Gas Industry 

Yue Qin, Lena Hoglund-Isaksson, Edward Byers, Kuishuang Feng, Fabian Wagner, Wei Peng, Denise L. Mauzerall. Nature Sustainability. September 2018. 

We examine the air quality–carbon–water interdependencies of China’s six major natural gas sources and three end-use gas-for-coal substitution strategies in 2020. We find that replacing coal with gas sources other than coal-based synthetic natural gas

(SNG) generally offers national air quality–carbon–water co-benefits. However, SNG achieves air quality benefits while increasing carbon emissions and water demand, particularly in regions that already suffer from high per capita carbon emissions and

severe water scarcity. 

Climate, Air Quality and Human Health Benefits of Various Solar Photovoltaic Deployment Scenarios in China in 2030

Junnan Yang, Xiaoyuan Li, Wei Peng, Fabian Wagner, DeniseL. Mauzerall. 

Environmental Research Letters. May 2018. 

The Chinese government plans to greatly scale up solar PV installation between now and 2030. However, different PV development pathways will influence the range of air quality and climate benefits. We find that deployment in the east with inter-provincial transmission (Balanced_Regional) yields the largest benefits because it maximizes displacement of the dirtiest coal-fired power plants and minimizes PV curtailment, which is more likely to occur without inter-provincial transmission. 

Potential Co-benefits of Electrification for Air Quality, Health and CO2 Mitigation in 2030 China
Wei Peng, Junnan Yang, Xi Lu, Denise L. Mauzerall. Applied Energy. May 2018. 

Electrification with decarbonized electricity is a central strategy for carbon mitigation. It can also reduce air pollutant emissions from the demand sectors, which brings public health co-benefits. With a focus on China's 2030 strategies, we find that coal-intensive electrification (ELE_BAU*) does not reduce CO2 emissions, but can bring significant air quality and health benefits. Switching to a half decarbonized power supply for electrification (ELE_LowC*) of the transport and/or residential sectors leads to significant carbon mitigation, plus greater air quality and health benefits. 

Reduction of Solar Photovoltaic Resources due to Air Pollution in China
Xiaoyuan Li, Fabian Wagner, Wei Peng, Junnan Yang, Denise L. Mauzerall. 
PNAS. October 2017.

Enormous growth in solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity generation in China is planned. However, over much of China, aerosol pollution scatters and absorbs sunlight, significantly reducing surface solar radiation suitable for PV electricity generation. We evaluate the impact of aerosols on PV generation and find aerosol-related annual average reductions in eastern China to be more than 20%. In winter, aerosols have comparable impacts to clouds over eastern provinces. Improving air quality in China would increase efficiency of solar PV generation. 

Substantial Air Quality and Climate Co-benefits Achievable Now with Sectoral Mitigation Strategies in China
Wei Peng, Junnan Yang, Fabian Wagner, Denise L. Mauzerall. 
Science of the Total Environment. November 2017.

We examine near-term air quality and CO2 co-benefits of various current sector-based policies in China. We evaluate the potential benefits of a 20% increase in conventional air pollution controls, plus sector-specific strategies for the power, industrial, transportation and residential sectors. We find the largest immediate benefits for air quality, health and climate by improving energy efficiency in the industrial sector.

Air Quality and Climate Benefits of Long-distance Electricity Transmission in China
Wei Peng, Jiahai Yuan, Yu Zhao, Meiyun Lin, Qiang Zhang, David G. Victor, Denise L. Mauzerall. Environmental Research Letters. June 2017

China is the world's top carbon emitter and suffers from severe air pollution. We examine one strategy that can potentially address both issues—utilizing long-distance electricity transmission to bring renewable power to the polluted east. We find that transmitting a hybrid of renewable (60%) and coal power (40%) (Hybrid-by-wire, HbW) reduces 16% more national air-pollution-associated deaths and 3 times more CO2 than transmitting only coal electricity (Coal-by-wire, CbW). 

Air quality, Health, and Climate Implications of China's Synthetic Natural Gas Development 
Yue Qin, Fabian Wagner, Noah Scovronick, Wei Peng, Junnan Yang, Tong Zhu, Kirk R. Smith, Denise L. Mauzerall. PNAS. April 2017.

China’s coal-based synthetic natural gas (SNG) projects can reduce air pollution and associated premature mortality by substituting for direct coal use. However, these benefits come with increased CO2 emissions unless carbon capture and storage (CCS) is applied in SNG production. In China, due to inefficient and uncontrolled coal combustion in households, we find that allocating currently available SNG to the residential sector provides the largest air quality and health benefits and smallest climate penalties compared with allocation to the power or industrial sectors.

Air Pollutant Emissions from Chinese Households: A Major and Underappreciated Ambient Pollution Source 
Jun Liu, Denise L. Mauzerall. Qi Chen, Qiang Zhang, Yu Song, Wei Peng, Zbigniew Klimont, Xinghua Qiu, Shiqiu Zhang, Min Hu, Weili Lin, Kirk R. Smith, Tong Zhu. PNAS. June 2016.

China suffers from severe outdoor air pollution and associated public health impacts. In response, the government has imposed restrictions on major pollution sources such as vehicles and power plants. We show that due to uncontrolled and inefficient combustion of solid fuels in household devices, emission reductions from the residential sector may have greater air quality benefits in the North China Plain, including Beijing than reductions from other sectors. These benefits would be largest in the winter heating season when severe air pollution occurs. 

Challenges Faced by China Compared with the U.S. in Developing Wind Power
Xi Lu, Michael B. McElroy, Wei Peng, Shiyang Liu, Chris P. Nielsen, Haikun Wang. 
Nature Energy. May 2016.

Despite greater capacity for wind installation in China compared to the US (145.1 vs. 75.0 GW), less wind electricity is generated in China (186.3 vs. 190.9 TWh). We find that the difference in wind resources explains only a small fraction (-17.9%) of the present China−US difference in wind power output; the curtailment of wind power (-49.3%), differences in turbine quality (-50.2%), and delayed connection to the grid (-50.3%) are identified as the three primary factors.

Association Between Changes in Air Pollution and Biomarkers of Oxidative Stress in Children Before & During the Beijing Olympics
Weiwei Lin, Tong Zhu, Tao Xue, Wei Peng, Bert Brunekreef, Ulrike Gehring, Wei Huang, Min Hu, Yuanhang Zhang, Xiaoyan Tang. American Journal of Epidemiology. Mar 2015.

We investigated the association between exposure to air pollution and biomarkers of oxidative stress in relation to a governmental air quality intervention implemented during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. During the Olympic intervention period, we find substantial reductions in air pollution (−19% to −72%), as well as urinary 8-oxodG concentrations (−37.4%; 95% confidence interval: −53.5, −15.7), and urinary malondialdehyde concentrations (−25.3%; −34.3, −15.1). 

© 2020 by Wei Peng.