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Analysis of urban energy metabolic system: An ecological network framework and a case study for Beijing

Hu, Guangwen, Mu, Xianzhong
Journal of cleaner production 2019 v.210 pp. 958-969
case studies, clean energy, coal, electricity, energy, environmental protection, metabolism, natural gas, sustainable development, system optimization, trophic relationships, China
The trilemma of economic growth, energy sustainability and environmental protection is facing China's urban sustainable development. In this paper, the ecological network analysis is applied to evaluate the whole metabolic processes of urban energy system. Then, a hierarchy analysis is conducted to diagnose and describe the energy's impacts on the whole energy metabolic processes, and reflect the dynamics and evolution of urban energy metabolic system. Using Beijing as a case study, results suggest that Beijing's strongest energy metabolic flows are electricity→service and electricity→ industrial energy use. Meanwhile, the main inflow to electricity has switched from raw coal in 2008 to natural gas in 2016. The hierarchy analysis indicates that the impacts of Natural gas and other energy are increasing while that of raw coal is decreasing. These results also suggest that Beijing's current achievements on urban energy system optimization mainly rely on structural variation in industries. It is considered that the future optimization should concentrate on promoting clean energy utilization in Beijing.