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Ecological network analysis of an energy metabolism system based on input-output tables: Model development and case study for Guangdong

Zhai, Mengyu, Huang, Guohe, Liu, Lirong, Zhang, Xin
Journal of cleaner production 2019 v.227 pp. 434-446
case studies, electricity, embodied energy, energy use and consumption, equipment, heat, input output analysis, models, petroleum, primary energy, renewable energy sources, specific energy, transportation industry, trophic relationships, urbanization, China
Rapid urbanization results in energy shortage and unreasonable energy metabolism structure. The goal of this research is to take Guangdong, China as a special case study to illustrate the influence of energy classification differences on the energy metabolism system. To do so, we introduced the concept of “urban metabolism”, and treated sectors and energy flows as nodes and paths in a network model. We used the input output analysis to compile the physical input output table through the embodied energy element intensity. Building on this, we used ecological network analysis to quantify the urban metabolic processes and energy metabolism levels within the urban system. In addition, the alternative indicators are first introduced to explore the best alternative energy in various sectors to avoid a short-term energy crisis. In this paper, different energy groups are considered on the energy metabolism system, including all energy, primary energy, secondary energy and six specific energy, which will fill the research gap about the influence of energy classification on urban energy metabolism. It is found that the energy metabolism of Guangdong is now in the state of sub-health. The energy metabolism hierarchy atlas shows that the pulling force is hardly affected by the energy classification but the driving force is very sensitive, which further illustrate that producers can choose different energy according to their production structure. Facing the shortage of energy supply, the secondary energy with the highest substitutability of all energy value is the better alternative energy for advanced manufacturing sector (containing twelve industries such as Manufacture of transportation equipment and Manufacture of metal products). More specifically, the nonrenewable properties of primary energy make it particularly important to find the corresponding alternative energy. Heat is the best alternative energy for crude oil, while electricity is irreplaceable. It is expected that the results will provide scientific support to guide the reform of urban energy metabolic system in an attempt to coordinate the energy development strategy, improve the energy consumption structure and maintain energy security and stability.