IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Allocation of emission permits for China’s power plants: A systemic Pareto optimal method


  • Ji, Xiang
  • Li, Guo
  • Wang, Zhaohua


Allocation of emission permits (AEP) is an important issue because of its significant effects on environmental governance and operations management. However, whether AEP results can constantly maintain systemic Pareto optimality still remains unclear and has not been investigated adequately in prior literature. We attempt to fill this gap by dividing the AEP process into a pre-stage observation process and a two-stage regulatory scheme as motivated by recent real-world examples. We apply the characterizations of each stage’s state variables to build a conceptual AEP model based on the classical theory of data envelopment analysis (DEA). Considering different real-world scenarios, we extend this conceptual AEP model into three different AEP models: non-limited, uniform-limited, and heterogeneous-limited AEP models. The allocation schemes derived from each of these three models are proved theoretically to be systemic Pareto optimal in the corresponding scenarios. The advantages of our models over other AEP methods are real-world tractability, enforceability, and systemic Pareto optimality. We further conduct an empirical analysis on allocating SO2 emission permits among mainland China’s major million-KW coal-fired power plants using the proposed models. Results of our empirical study show that the heterogeneous-limited AEP model exhibits higher performance over the non-limited and uniform-limited AEP models. Thus, we suggest that the Chinese coal-fired power industry should employ the heterogeneous-limited AEP model in the practical allocation of SO2 emission permits.

Suggested Citation

  • Ji, Xiang & Li, Guo & Wang, Zhaohua, 2017. "Allocation of emission permits for China’s power plants: A systemic Pareto optimal method," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 204(C), pages 607-619.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:appene:v:204:y:2017:i:c:p:607-619
    DOI: 10.1016/j.apenergy.2017.07.033

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Li, Ming-Jia & Tao, Wen-Quan, 2017. "Review of methodologies and polices for evaluation of energy efficiency in high energy-consuming industry," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 187(C), pages 203-215.
    2. Li, Ke & Lin, Boqiang, 2016. "Impact of energy conservation policies on the green productivity in China’s manufacturing sector: Evidence from a three-stage DEA model," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 168(C), pages 351-363.
    3. Wang, Xin & Li, Zhengwei & Meng, Haixing & Wu, Jiang, 2017. "Identification of key energy efficiency drivers through global city benchmarking: A data driven approach," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 190(C), pages 18-28.
    4. Karsten Neuhoff & Kim Keats Martinez & Misato Sato, 2006. "Allocation, incentives and distortions: the impact of EU ETS emissions allowance allocations to the electricity sector," Climate Policy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(1), pages 73-91, January.
    5. Lawrence H. Goulder & Ian W.H. Parry & Dallas Burtraw, 1997. "Revenue-Raising versus Other Approaches to Environmental Protection: The Critical Significance of Preexisting Tax Distortions," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 28(4), pages 708-731, Winter.
    6. Zhang, Yue-Jun & Wei, Yi-Ming, 2010. "An overview of current research on EU ETS: Evidence from its operating mechanism and economic effect," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 87(6), pages 1804-1814, June.
    7. Lozano, S. & Villa, G. & Brännlund, R., 2009. "Centralised reallocation of emission permits using DEA," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 193(3), pages 752-760, March.
    8. Meng, Fanyi & Su, Bin & Thomson, Elspeth & Zhou, Dequn & Zhou, P., 2016. "Measuring China’s regional energy and carbon emission efficiency with DEA models: A survey," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 183(C), pages 1-21.
    9. Du, Huibin & Matisoff, Daniel C. & Wang, Yangyang & Liu, Xi, 2016. "Understanding drivers of energy efficiency changes in China," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 184(C), pages 1196-1206.
    10. Montgomery, W. David, 1972. "Markets in licenses and efficient pollution control programs," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 395-418, December.
    11. Wang, Qunwei & Su, Bin & Sun, Jiasen & Zhou, Peng & Zhou, Dequn, 2015. "Measurement and decomposition of energy-saving and emissions reduction performance in Chinese cities," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 151(C), pages 85-92.
    12. Hao, Yu & Liao, Hua & Wei, Yi-Ming, 2015. "Is China’s carbon reduction target allocation reasonable? An analysis based on carbon intensity convergence," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 229-239.
    13. Zhou, D.Q. & Wang, Qunwei & Su, B. & Zhou, P. & Yao, L.X., 2016. "Industrial energy conservation and emission reduction performance in China: A city-level nonparametric analysis," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 166(C), pages 201-209.
    14. Tom Tietenberg, 2003. "The Tradable-Permits Approach to Protecting the Commons: Lessons for Climate Change," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(3), pages 400-419.
    15. Qin, Quande & Li, Xin & Li, Li & Zhen, Wei & Wei, Yi-Ming, 2017. "Air emissions perspective on energy efficiency: An empirical analysis of China’s coastal areas," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 185(P1), pages 604-614.
    16. Wang, Zhao-Hua & Zeng, Hua-Lin & Wei, Yi-Ming & Zhang, Yi-Xiang, 2012. "Regional total factor energy efficiency: An empirical analysis of industrial sector in China," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 115-123.
    17. Zhang, Bin & Xu, Liang, 2013. "Multi-item production planning with carbon cap and trade mechanism," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 144(1), pages 118-127.
    18. Holland, Stephen P. & Moore, Michael R., 2013. "Market design in cap and trade programs: Permit validity and compliance timing," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 66(3), pages 671-687.
    19. Ahman, Markus & Burtraw, Dallas & Kruger, Joseph & Zetterberg, Lars, 2007. "A Ten-Year Rule to guide the allocation of EU emission allowances," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 1718-1730, March.
    20. Li, Tianxiang & Baležentis, Tomas & Makutėnienė, Daiva & Streimikiene, Dalia & Kriščiukaitienė, Irena, 2016. "Energy-related CO2 emission in European Union agriculture: Driving forces and possibilities for reduction," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 180(C), pages 682-694.
    21. Shiro Takeda & Toshi Arimura & Hanae Tamechika & Carolyn Fischer & Alan Fox, 2014. "Output-based allocation of emissions permits for mitigating the leakage and competitiveness issues for the Japanese economy," Environmental Economics and Policy Studies, Springer;Society for Environmental Economics and Policy Studies - SEEPS, vol. 16(1), pages 89-110, January.
    22. Jinye Zhao & Benjamin F. Hobbs & Jong-Shi Pang, 2010. "Long-Run Equilibrium Modeling of Emissions Allowance Allocation Systems in Electric Power Markets," Operations Research, INFORMS, vol. 58(3), pages 529-548, June.
    23. Cason, Timothy N & Gangadharan, Lata, 2003. "Transactions Costs in Tradable Permit Markets: An Experimental Study of Pollution Market Designs," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 23(2), pages 145-165, March.
    24. Ian Mackenzie & Nick Hanley & Tatiana Kornienko, 2008. "The optimal initial allocation of pollution permits: a relative performance approach," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 39(3), pages 265-282, March.
    25. Xuanming Su, 2008. "Bounded Rationality in Newsvendor Models," Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, INFORMS, vol. 10(4), pages 566-589, May.
    26. Wu, Rui & Dai, Hancheng & Geng, Yong & Xie, Yang & Masui, Toshihiko & Tian, Xu, 2016. "Achieving China’s INDC through carbon cap-and-trade: Insights from Shanghai," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 184(C), pages 1114-1122.
    27. Li, Ye & Cui, Qiang, 2017. "Carbon neutral growth from 2020 strategy and airline environmental inefficiency: A Network Range Adjusted Environmental Data Envelopment Analysis," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 199(C), pages 13-24.
    28. Nielsen, Hana, 2017. "Productive efficiency in the iron and steel sector under state planning: The case of China and former Czechoslovakia in a comparative perspective," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 185(P2), pages 1732-1743.
    29. Zhou, P. & Zhang, L. & Zhou, D.Q. & Xia, W.J., 2013. "Modeling economic performance of interprovincial CO2 emission reduction quota trading in China," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 1518-1528.
    30. Zhou, P. & Zhou, X. & Fan, L.W., 2014. "On estimating shadow prices of undesirable outputs with efficiency models: A literature review," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 799-806.
    31. Carolyn Fischer & Alan K. Fox, 2007. "Output-Based Allocation of Emissions Permits for Mitigating Tax and Trade Interactions," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 83(4), pages 575-599.
    32. R. D. Banker & A. Charnes & W. W. Cooper, 1984. "Some Models for Estimating Technical and Scale Inefficiencies in Data Envelopment Analysis," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 30(9), pages 1078-1092, September.
    33. Zhang, Yue-Jun & Wang, Ao-Dong & Tan, Weiping, 2015. "The impact of China's carbon allowance allocation rules on the product prices and emission reduction behaviors of ETS-covered enterprises," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 176-185.
    34. Park, Ji-Won & Kim, Chae Un & Isard, Walter, 2012. "Permit allocation in emissions trading using the Boltzmann distribution," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 391(20), pages 4883-4890.
    35. Cui, Lian-Biao & Fan, Ying & Zhu, Lei & Bi, Qing-Hua, 2014. "How will the emissions trading scheme save cost for achieving China’s 2020 carbon intensity reduction target?," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 136(C), pages 1043-1052.
    36. Charnes, A. & Cooper, W. W. & Rhodes, E., 1978. "Measuring the efficiency of decision making units," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 2(6), pages 429-444, November.
    37. Tanaka, Makoto & Chen, Yihsu, 2012. "Market power in emissions trading: Strategically manipulating permit price through fringe firms," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 203-211.
    38. Severin Borenstein, 1988. "On the Efficiency of Competitive Markets for Operating Licenses," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 103(2), pages 357-385.
    39. Bohringer, Christoph & Lange, Andreas, 2005. "On the design of optimal grandfathering schemes for emission allowances," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(8), pages 2041-2055, November.
    40. Robert N. Stavins, 1998. "What Can We Learn from the Grand Policy Experiment? Lessons from SO2 Allowance Trading," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 69-88, Summer.
    41. Requate, Till & Unold, Wolfram, 2003. "Environmental policy incentives to adopt advanced abatement technology:: Will the true ranking please stand up?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 125-146, February.
    42. Nathaniel O. Keohane, 2009. "Cap and Trade, Rehabilitated: Using Tradable Permits to Control U.S. Greenhouse Gases," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 3(1), pages 42-62, Winter.
    43. Jiang, Jingjing & Xie, Dejun & Ye, Bin & Shen, Bo & Chen, Zhanming, 2016. "Research on China’s cap-and-trade carbon emission trading scheme: Overview and outlook," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 178(C), pages 902-917.
    44. Li, Shoude, 2013. "Emission permit banking, pollution abatement and production–inventory control of the firm," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 146(2), pages 679-685.
    45. Zhang, Yue-Jun & Hao, Jun-Fang & Song, Juan, 2016. "The CO2 emission efficiency, reduction potential and spatial clustering in China’s industry: Evidence from the regional level," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 174(C), pages 213-223.
    46. Erik Haites, 2003. "Output-based allocation as a form of protection for internationally competitive industries," Climate Policy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 3(sup2), pages 29-41, December.
    47. Hong, Taehoon & Koo, Choongwan & Lee, Sungug, 2014. "Benchmarks as a tool for free allocation through comparison with similar projects: Focused on multi-family housing complex," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 663-675.
    48. Wei, Yi-Ming & Wang, Lu & Liao, Hua & Wang, Ke & Murty, Tad & Yan, Jinyue, 2014. "Responsibility accounting in carbon allocation: A global perspective," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 122-133.
    49. Cui, Qiang & Wei, Yi-Ming & Li, Ye, 2016. "Exploring the impacts of the EU ETS emission limits on airline performance via the Dynamic Environmental DEA approach," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 183(C), pages 984-994.
    50. Ji-Won Park & Chae Un Kim & Walter Isard, 2011. "Permit Allocation in Emissions Trading using the Boltzmann Distribution," Papers 1108.2305,, revised Mar 2012.
    51. Zhou, D.Q. & Wu, F. & Zhou, X. & Zhou, P., 2016. "Output-specific energy efficiency assessment: A data envelopment analysis approach," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 177(C), pages 117-126.
    52. Liao, Hua & Du, Yun-Fei & Huang, Zhimin & Wei, Yi-Ming, 2016. "Measuring energy economic efficiency: A mathematical programming approach," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 179(C), pages 479-487.
    53. Wang, Derek D. & Sueyoshi, Toshiyuki, 2017. "Assessment of large commercial rooftop photovoltaic system installations: Evidence from California," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 188(C), pages 45-55.
    54. Ji, Xiang & Li, Guo & Wang, Zhaohua, 2017. "Impact of emission regulation policies on Chinese power firms’ reusable environmental investments and sustainable operations," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 163-177.
    55. Scheel, Holger, 2001. "Undesirable outputs in efficiency valuations," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 132(2), pages 400-410, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Xiang Ji & Jie Wu & Qingyuan Zhu & Jiasen Sun, 2019. "Using a hybrid heterogeneous DEA method to benchmark China’s sustainable urbanization: an empirical study," Annals of Operations Research, Springer, vol. 278(1), pages 281-335, July.
    2. Qunli Wu & Hongjie Zhang, 2019. "Research on Optimization Allocation Scheme of Initial Carbon Emission Quota from the Perspective of Welfare Effect," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(11), pages 1-27, June.
    3. Guo Li & Ming K. Lim & Zhaohua Wang, 2020. "Stakeholders, green manufacturing, and practice performance: empirical evidence from Chinese fashion businesses," Annals of Operations Research, Springer, vol. 290(1), pages 961-982, July.
    4. Jie Wu & Zhixin Chen & Xiang Ji, 2020. "Sustainable trade promotion decisions under demand disruption in manufacturer-retailer supply chains," Annals of Operations Research, Springer, vol. 290(1), pages 115-143, July.
    5. Sun, Jiasen & Yuan, Yang & Yang, Rui & Ji, Xiang & Wu, Jie, 2017. "Performance evaluation of Chinese port enterprises under significant environmental concerns: An extended DEA-based analysis," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 75-86.
    6. Sun, Jiasen & Li, Guo & Wang, Zhaohua, 2018. "Optimizing China’s energy consumption structure under energy and carbon constraints," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 57-72.
    7. Toshiyuki Sueyoshi & Mika Goto, 2020. "Performance Assessment of Japanese Electric Power Industry: DEA Measurement with Future Impreciseness," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 13(2), pages 1-24, January.
    8. Jiasen Sun & Guo Li, 2020. "Designing a double auction mechanism for the re-allocation of emission permits," Annals of Operations Research, Springer, vol. 291(1), pages 847-874, August.
    9. Mohammad Amirkhan & Hosein Didehkhani & Kaveh Khalili-Damghani & Ashkan Hafezalkotob, 2018. "Measuring Performance of a Three-Stage Network Structure Using Data Envelopment Analysis and Nash Bargaining Game: A Supply Chain Application," International Journal of Information Technology & Decision Making (IJITDM), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 17(05), pages 1429-1467, September.
    10. Li, Yan & Wei, Yigang & Zhang, Xiaoling & Tao, Yuan, 2020. "Regional and provincial CO2 emission reduction task decomposition of China's 2030 carbon emission peak based on the efficiency, equity and synthesizing principles," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 237-256.
    11. Li, Aijun & Zhang, Aizhen & Huang, Huijie & Yao, Xin, 2018. "Measuring unified efficiency of fossil fuel power plants across provinces in China: An analysis based on non-radial directional distance functions," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 152(C), pages 549-561.
    12. Xu, Jiuping & Wang, Fengjuan & Lv, Chengwei & Huang, Qian & Xie, Heping, 2018. "Economic-environmental equilibrium based optimal scheduling strategy towards wind-solar-thermal power generation system under limited resources," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 231(C), pages 355-371.
    13. Bao-Jun Tang & Yu-Jie Hu, 2019. "How to Allocate the Allowance for the Aviation Industry in China’s Emissions Trading System," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(9), pages 1-18, May.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:appene:v:204:y:2017:i:c:p:607-619. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Haili He). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.