Applied Energy, Vol.231, 951-958, 2018
Assessing life cycle water use and pollution of coal-fired power generation in China using input-output analysis
In the present study, both water depletion and degradation in the life cycle of power generation at coal-fired power plants in China are quantified using a mixed-unit input-output model. National life cycle Withdrawal, Blue and Grey water footprint (WF) of thermal power production in China are estimated to be 35.46, 2.14 and 17.67 m(3) per MWh of electricity produced, respectively. Those three types of life cycle WFs experienced significant reductions from 2002 to 2012 due to improved technologies such as water saving and wastewater treatment. Although Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) pollutant had the largest discharge amount in the life cycle process of electricity generation, petroleum pollutant that was mostly discharged from coal production determined the Grey WF because of its lower permissible concentration. The spatial distribution of scarce WFs, incorporating regional water stresses, is also studied at the provincial level to identify the impacts of thermal power generation on regional water scarcities. Scarce water consumption was concentrated in northern China while scarce water was predominantly withdrawn in eastern China.