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Impact of urban water supply on energy use in China: a provincial and national comparison


  • Kate Smith

    (Tsinghua University)

  • Shuming Liu

    () (Tsinghua University
    Tsinghua University)

  • Yi Liu

    (Tsinghua University)

  • Dragan Savic

    (University of Exeter)

  • Gustaf Olsson

    (Lund University)

  • Tian Chang

    (Tsinghua University)

  • Xue Wu

    (Tsinghua University)


Abstract To reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and help mitigate climate change, urban water systems need to be adapted so that electrical energy use is minimised. In this study, energy data from 2011 was used to quantify energy use in China’s urban water supply sector. The objective was to calculate the energy co-benefits of urban water conservation policies and compare energy use between China and other countries. The study investigated influencing factors with the aim of informing the development of energy efficient urban water infrastructure. The average energy use per cubic metre and per capita for urban water supply in China in 2011 was 0.29 kWh/m3 and 33.2 kWh/cap year, respectively. Total GHG emissions associated with energy use in the urban water supply sector were 7.63 MtCO2e, or carbon dioxide equivalent. Calculations using these indicators showed significant energy savings could result from water conservation measures. A comparison between provinces of China showed a direct correlation between energy intensity of urban water supply and the population served per unit length of pipe. This may imply energy and emission intensity can be reduced if more densely populated areas are supplied by a corresponding pipe density, rather than by a low-density network operating at higher flow rates. This study also found that while the percentage of electrical energy used for urban water supply tended to increase with the percentage of population served, this increase was slower where water supply was more energy efficient and where a larger percentage of population was already supplied.

Suggested Citation

  • Kate Smith & Shuming Liu & Yi Liu & Dragan Savic & Gustaf Olsson & Tian Chang & Xue Wu, 2016. "Impact of urban water supply on energy use in China: a provincial and national comparison," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 21(8), pages 1213-1233, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:masfgc:v:21:y:2016:i:8:d:10.1007_s11027-015-9648-x
    DOI: 10.1007/s11027-015-9648-x

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Yang, Hong & Zhou, Yuan & Liu, Junguo, 2009. "Land and water requirements of biofuel and implications for food supply and the environment in China," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(5), pages 1876-1885, May.
    2. Li, Xin & Feng, Kuishuang & Siu, Yim Ling & Hubacek, Klaus, 2012. "Energy-water nexus of wind power in China: The balancing act between CO2 emissions and water consumption," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 440-448.
    3. Venkatesh, G. & Brattebø, Helge, 2011. "Energy consumption, costs and environmental impacts for urban water cycle services: Case study of Oslo (Norway)," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 792-800.
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