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A supply chain based assessment of water issues in the coal industry in China

Author:
Lingying Pan   Pei Liu   Linwei Ma   Zheng Li  


Journal:
Energy Policy


Issue Date:
2012


Abstract(summary):

Shortages of water and geographically uneven distribution of coal and water pose great challenges to sustainable development of the coal industry in China. In this paper, we illustrate the major challenges existing in the coal industry from a supply chain viewpoint, and propose technical and policy suggestions to address them. First, we provide quantitative information about water withdrawal, consumption, waste water recycling and treatment and pollution from coal mining, preparation, to final conversion for China's power generation and coal-to-chemical industry. We then analyze scenarios of water use in China's coal industry between 2020 and 2030. Our results show that water issues are becoming increasingly severe constraints for coal development in China, especially in North and West China, where water is more scarce and ecological systems are more vulnerable than other regions. Without implementing effective water-saving measures or regulations the water demand in the coal industry could dramatically increase and probably exceed China's water supply capacity in the near-term future, bringing substantial uncertainty to sustainable development of China's energy economy. We also illustrate that coal-fired power generation, with appropriate technical improvement and proper policy supports, has the greatest potential for water savings in the coal industry. Our conclusions also underscore the importance of expanding energy efficiency and renewable energy in China so as to limit the country's dependence on coal.


Page:
93-102


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