Developing appropriate renewable energy infrastructure is a growing concern for most countries, especially in China, which has the highest energy consumption of any nation in the world. Transforming energy policies is not only key in questions of how to mitigate environmental pollution, but also in economic and societal growth. One policy that seeks to optimize energy structure in China, electric power substitution (EPS), would replace coal with electric power in order to reduce carbon emissions.

To assess the effects that EPS policy would have on energy supply and demand in China, Wang et al. developed a system-dynamics model. The researchers found that implementation of the policy would stall the growth of carbon dioxide emissions and lead to a decline in emissions by 2035. They also provided additional suggestions that would lead to an optimized sustainable energy structure, such as active promotion of EPS by policymakers in order to establish a competitive market.

“The simulation shows the indispensable role of EPS policy in promoting the transformation of China’s energy structure,” said author Jiale Yang.

The nonlinear nature of energy demand is what lead the team to adopt a system-dynamics approach. They applied numerous technological development scenarios to the simulations and found that EPS policy would play a crucial role in transforming the energy structure of China.

“This research has some limitations that may still be improved upon,” said Yang. “The proposed model considers carbon dioxide emissions as the only environmental constraint.”

Using multi-objective constraints in future research will give a more expansive understanding of the impact of different technologies and policies on energy structure.

Source: “The effect of electric-power substitution policy on the energy transformation in China: A system-dynamics approach,” by Yongli Wang, Yuanyuan Zhang, Jiale Yang, Fuli Zhang, Shuo Wang, and Yuze Ma, Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy (2019). The article can be accessed at