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Engineering and optimization approaches to enhance the thermal efficiency of coal electricity generation in China

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  • Xu, Yuan
  • Yang, Chi-Jen
  • Xuan, Xiaowei

Abstract

China has made improving the thermal efficiencies of its coal-fired power plants a national priority. Official data show that the average thermal efficiency was enhanced from 31.3% in 2000 to 33.2% in 2005 and 36.9% in 2010. This paper aims to assess the validity of China's claimed improvement, examine major responsible factors, and identify future improvement opportunities. Recognizable factors can account for about 80% of the reported progress in the 10th Five-Year Plan (2001–2005) and about 85% in the 11th (2006–2010) to largely verify the reported progress. Engineering approaches—especially replacing inefficient power units with more efficient ones—are the largest contributing factors, while optimization approaches—particularly electricity dispatch—remains inefficient in China. In 2010, the explainable efficiency improvement might have avoided around 500 million tons of CO2 emissions. In comparison, although the United States was fairly static with most of its coal-fired power plants seriously outdated, it has more efficient electricity dispatch. In China's ongoing 12th Five-Year Plan (2011–2015), better dispatch patterns could be more important as opportunities for improvement through engineering approaches have been largely exhausted.

Suggested Citation

  • Xu, Yuan & Yang, Chi-Jen & Xuan, Xiaowei, 2013. "Engineering and optimization approaches to enhance the thermal efficiency of coal electricity generation in China," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 356-363.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:60:y:2013:i:c:p:356-363
    DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2013.05.047
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Eisenack, Klaus, 2016. "Institutional adaptation to cooling water scarcity for thermoelectric power generation under global warming," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 153-163.
    2. Huang, Weilong & Ma, Ding & Chen, Wenying, 2017. "Connecting water and energy: Assessing the impacts of carbon and water constraints on China’s power sector," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 185(P2), pages 1497-1505.
    3. Qin, Ying & Curmi, Elizabeth & Kopec, Grant M. & Allwood, Julian M. & Richards, Keith S., 2015. "China's energy-water nexus – assessment of the energy sector's compliance with the “3 Red Lines” industrial water policy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 131-143.
    4. Li Li & Jianjun Wang, 2015. "The Effects of Coal Switching and Improvements in Electricity Production Efficiency and Consumption on CO 2 Mitigation Goals in China," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(7), pages 1-20, July.
    5. Khanna, Nina Zheng & Zhou, Nan & Fridley, David & Ke, Jing, 2016. "Quantifying the potential impacts of China's power-sector policies on coal input and CO2 emissions through 2050: A bottom-up perspective," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 128-138.

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