The Chinese government accelerated the clean residential heating transition in northern China as part of a successful effort to improve regional air quality. Meanwhile, China has committed to carbon neutrality by 2060, making strategic choices for long-term decarbonization of the residential sector necessary. However, the synergies and trade-offs for health and carbon of alternative heating options and associated costs have not been systematically considered. Here we investigate air-quality–health–carbon interdependencies as well as household costs of using electricity (heat pumps or resistance heaters), gas or clean coal for residential heating for individual provinces across northern China. We find substantial air-quality and health benefits, varied carbon emissions and increased heating costs across clean heating options. With the 2015 power mix, gas heaters offer the largest health–carbon co-benefits, while resistance heaters lead to health–carbon trade-offs. As the power grid decarbonizes, by 2030 heat pumps achieve the largest health–carbon synergies of the options we analysed. Despite high capital costs, heat pumps generally have the lowest operating costs and thus are competitive for long-term use. With increased subsidies on the purchase of heat pumps, the government can facilitate further air-quality improvements and carbon mitigation in the clean heating transition.
To address severe air pollution, the Chinese government plans to replace most residential coal stoves in northern China with clean heating devices by 2021. Coal stove replacement started in the “Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei (BTH)” region and is expanding throughout northern China. Removing coal stoves reduces air pollutant emissions and hence is beneficial for both air quality and public health, as well as offering greenhouse gas mitigation co-benefits. However, there is little discussion of the economic costs of various clean heating technologies. In this study, we estimate total annual costs (TAC, annualized capital costs plus annual operating costs) for rural households, across cities/counties in the BTH region, to replace their coal stoves with several prevalent clean options—air-source heat pumpswith fan coils (ASHPwF), electric resistance heaters with thermal storage (RHwTS), natural gas heaters (NGH), and clean coal briquettes with improved stoves (CCIS). We find: 1) Without subsidies, CCIS have the lowest TAC of all clean options. TAC of unsubsidized CCIS approximately doubles TAC of raw coal with improved stoves (RCIS), while unsubsidized electric/gas heaters cost 3–5 times more than RCIS. Thus, it is important for governments to financially support households' replacement of their coal stoves with clean heaters to facilitatewidespread adoption. 2)With subsidies, CCIS have the lowest TAC in all regions except Beijing. In Beijing, generous subsides make ASHPwF—themost energy-efficient option—have the lowest TAC. In Tianjin, TAC of subsidized ASHPwF are slightly higher than CCIS and NGH. Throughout Hebei, except for a few severely cold northern counties where gas prices are high, subsidized NGH have lower TAC than ASHPwF and RHwTS. 3) Cost competitiveness of ASHPwF increases as heat demand increases, (e.g., higher desired indoor temperatures, larger home sizes, etc.) indicating that ASHP are good options for households with larger home sizes and commercial buildings. 4) Substantial potential exists to reduce heating expenses by improving building energy efficiency particularly in severely cold regions. 5) Cost advantages of NGH vary sharply with gas prices.
Solid fuel consumption and associated emissions from residential use are highly uncertain due to a lack of reliable statistics. In this study, we estimate solid fuel consumption and emissions from the rural residential sector in China by using data collected from a new nationwide field survey. We conducted a field survey in 2010 which covered ∼17,000 rural residential households in 183 counties in China, to obtain data for solid fuel consumption and use patterns. We then developed a Generalized Additive Model (GAM) to establish the relationship between solid fuel consumption and heating degree days (HDD), income, coal production, coal price, and vegetation coverage, respectively. The GAM was used to estimate solid fuel consumption in rural households in China at the county level. We estimated that, in 2010, 179.8Tg of coal were consumed in Chinese rural households for heating and cooking, which is 62% higher than that reported in official energy statistics. We found that large quantities of rural residential coal consumption in the North China Plain were underreported in energy statistics. For instance, estimated coal consumption in rural households in Hebei (one of most polluted provinces in China) was 20.8Tg in 2010, which is twice as high as government statistics indicate. In contrast, modeled national total consumption of crop residues (used as fuels) we found to be ∼50% lower than reported data. Combining the underlying data from the survey, the GAM and emission factors from literature, we estimate emissions from China’s rural residential sector in 2010 to be: 3.3Tg PM2.5, 0.6Tg BC, 1.2Tg OC, 2.1Tg VOC, 2.3Tg SO2, 0.4Tg NOx, 43.6Tg CO and 727.2Tg CO2, contributing to 29%, 35%, 38% and 26% of national total PM2.5, BC, OC, and CO emissions respectively. This work reveals that current emission inventories in China likely underestimate emissions from coal combustion in rural residential households due to missing coal consumption in official statistics, especially for the heavily polluted North China Plain (NCP) region. Per capita income appears to be the driving factor that results in the difference between surveyed data and official data. Residents with high income prefer commercial energy and have a higher per capita fuel consumption than lower income residents. Therefore, rural residential coal combustion may contribute even more to regional air pollution than the large contributions previously identified.
China is the world's top carbon emitter and suffers from severe air pollution. We examine near-term air quality and CO2 co-benefits of various current sector-based policies in China. Using a 2015 base case, we evaluate the potential benefits of four sectoral mitigation strategies. All scenarios include a 20% increase in conventional air pollution controls as well as the following sector-specific fuel switching or technology upgrade strategies. Power sector (POW): 80% replacement of small coal power plants with larger more efficient ones; Industry sector (IND): 10% improvement in energy efficiency; Transport sector (TRA): replacement of high emitters with average vehicle fleet emissions; and Residential sector (RES): replacement of 20% of coal-based stoves with stoves using liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Conducting an integrated assessment using the regional air pollution model WRFChem, we find that the IND scenario reduces national air-pollution-related deaths the most of the four scenarios examined (27,000, 24,000, 13,000 and 23,000 deaths reduced annually in IND, POW, TRA and RES, respectively). In addition, the IND scenario reduces CO2 emissions more than 8 times as much as any other scenario (440, 53, 0 and 52 Mt CO2 reduced in IND, POW, TRA and RES, respectively). We also examine the benefits of an industrial efficiency improvement of just 5%. We find the resulting air quality and health benefits are still among the largest of the sectoral scenarios, while the carbon mitigation benefits remain more than 3 times larger than any other scenario. Our analysis hence highlights the importance of even modest industrial energy efficiency improvements and air pollution control technology upgrades for air quality, health and climate benefits in China.
As part of the 12th Five-Year Plan, the Chinese government has developed air pollution prevention and control plans for key regions with a focus on the power, transport, and industrial sectors. Here, we investigate the contribution of residential emissions to regional air pollution in highly polluted eastern China during the heating season, and find that dramatic improvements in air quality would also result from reduction in residential emissions. We use the Weather Research and Forecasting model coupled with Chemistry to evaluate potential residential emission controls in Beijing and in the Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei (BTH) region. In January and February 2010, relative to the base case, eliminating residential emissions in Beijing reduced daily average surface PM2.5 (particulate mater with aerodynamic diameter equal or smaller than 2.5 micrometer) concentrations by 14 ± 7 μg·m−3 (22 ± 6% of a baseline concentration of 67 ± 41 μg·m−3 ; mean ± SD). Eliminating residential emissions in the BTH region reduced concentrations by 28 ± 19 μg·m−3 (40 ± 9% of 67 ± 41 μg·m−3 ), 44 ± 27 μg·m−3 (43 ± 10% of 99 ± 54 μg·m−3 ), and 25 ± 14 μg·m−3 (35 ± 8% of 70 ± 35 μg·m−3 ) in Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei provinces, respectively. Annually, elimination of residential sources in the BTH region reduced emissions of primary PM2.5 by 32%, compared with 5%, 6%, and 58% achieved by eliminating emissions from the transportation, power, and industry sectors, respectively. We also find air quality in Beijing would benefit substantially from reductions in residential emissions from regional controls in Tianjin and Hebei, indicating the value of policies at the regional level.