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Can remotely delivered electricity really alleviate smog? An assessment of China's use of ultra-high voltage transmission for air pollution prevention and control

Wang, Yuqing, Li, Mingzhu, Wang, Liying, Wang, Haolei, Zeng, Ming, Zeng, Bo, Qiu, Feng, Sun, Chenjun
Journal of cleaner production 2020 v.242 pp. 118430
air pollutants, air pollution, air pollution control, air quality, electricity, environmental impact, models, power generation, China
In recent years, air pollution in China has worsened significantly. As one of the key measure for the prevention and control of air pollution, ultra-high voltage (UHV) transmission has received government support and has been actively promoted. However, the use of UHV transmission to improve air quality in the receiving areas can result in the transfer of atmospheric pollutants to the sending areas where there is increased power generation. Therefore, the effectiveness and capability of the use of UHV transmission to prevent and control air pollution nationwide requires assessment. In this study, we review trends in the construction and development China's UHV transmission network. Based on principle analysis of the use of UHV transmission to alleviate atmospheric pollution, a model for assessing the prevention and control of atmospheric pollution using UHV transmission has been constructed. The model considers the environmental effects on the receiving location, as well as the country as a whole. In addition, we evaluate the effectiveness of air pollution control via UHV transmission using data from 2017 and estimate the future potential of UHV transmission in reducing pollution in China based on the UHV targets for 2020. The results of our evaluation show that, in 2017, the use of UHV transmission resulted in a 55% reduction in air pollutants nationwide. On the basis of the planned targets, a national pollutant reduction goal of 34% could be achieved by 2020. In our analysis, we found that nine of the air pollution prevention and control power transmission channels can effectively improve the overall air quality of the country, except for two lines: Huainan–Zhebei–Shanghai and Huainan–Nanjing–Shanghai.