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Title: Environmental implications and institutional challenges of China's wind power development : integrating input-output analysis and life cycle analysis
Author: Li, Xin
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2012
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Wind power in China has been experiencing substantial growths in the past decade. Accumulated generation capacity increased from 381.2 MW in 2001 to 62,364.2 MW in 2011, which could increase to 200 GW and 1,000 GW by 2020 and 2050, respectively. Despite the considerable growth in generation capacity and promises of a bright future, issues such as the power grid infrastructure and back-up systems, and life cycle environmental impacts of wind power development in China are largely overlooked. This thesis aims to investigate the capability of power grid infrastructure, the feasibility of back-up systems and the carbon dioxide and water implications of wind power in China. The research shows that (in Chapter 4) China’s power grid infrastructure is not capable of absorbing and transmitting wind-powered outputs. In addition, back-up systems are either geographically unavailable or financially infeasible. An analysis use the input-output based hybrid life cycle analysis to estimate the CO2 emissions and water consumption of wind power in China (in Chapter 5). The results show that China’s wind energy consumes 0.64 litre/kWh of water and produces 69.9 grams/kWh of CO2 emission, which could contribute a 23% reduction in carbon intensity and could save 800 million m3 of water in China by 2020. A further analysis based on the integrated hybrid life cycle analysis to evaluate and compare the CO2 emissions and water impacts of coal-fired power, wind power and solar power generation in Inner Mongolia, China. This chapter shows that substantial reductions in CO2 emissions and water consumption can be attained if the existing coal-dominated power generation were substituted by wind power. This research concludes that China’s wind power would face significant barriers due to insufficient grid infrastructure and infeasible backup systems that are mainly resulted from institutional challenges. Nevertheless, wind power could help China to save carbon emissions and water consumption at both national and regional level.
Supervisor: Siu, Yim Ling ; Hubacek, Klaus Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available