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Life-cycle comparison of greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption for coal and shale gas fired power generation in China
- Chang, Yuan, Huang, Runze, Ries, Robert J., Masanet, Eric
- Energy 2015 v.86 pp. 335-343
- coal, combustion, electricity, electricity generation, emissions factor, greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gases, infrastructure, life cycle inventory, models, power generation, prices, shale, shale gas, China
- China has the world's largest shale gas reserves, which might enable it to pursue a new pathway for electricity generation. This study employed hybrid LCI (life cycle inventory) models to quantify the ETW (extraction-to-wire) GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions and water consumption per kWh of coal- and shale gas-fired electricity in China. Results suggest that a coal-to-shale gas shift and upgrading coal-fired power generation technologies could provide pathways to less GHG and water intensive power in China. Compared to different coal-fired generation technologies, the ETW GHG emissions intensity of gas-fired CC (combined cycle) technology is 530 g CO2e/kWh, which is 38–45% less than China's present coal-fired electricity. Gas-fired CT (combustion turbine) technology has the lowest ETW water consumption intensity at 960 g/kWh, which is 34–60% lower than China's present coal-fired electricity. The GHG-water tradeoff of the two gas-fired power generation technologies suggests that gas-fired power generation technologies should be selected based on regional-specific water resource availabilities and electricity demand fluctuations in China. However, the low price of coal-fired electricity, high cost of shale gas production, insufficient pipeline infrastructures, and multiple consumers of shale gas resources may serve as barriers to a coal-to-shale gas shift in China's power sector in the near term.