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Do electricity flows hamper regional economic–environmental equity?

Haoran Zhang, Ruixiong Li, Xingrui Cai, Chaoyue Zheng, Laibao Liu, Maodian Liu, Qianru Zhang, Huiming Lin, Long Chen and Xuejun Wang

Applied Energy, 2022, vol. 326, issue C, No S0306261922012582

Abstract: Inter-regional electricity flows have mitigated the mismatch between electricity generation and demand. However, not only environmental impact transfers but also economic benefits are embodied in electricity flows. Whether electricity flows affect the equity of regional economic-environmental sustainability, the exploration is not sufficient. In this paper, a multi-model framework has developed to trace the transfers of electricity environmental impacts (measured by metal-water-carbon) and economic benefits (measured by valued added) and the degree of equity in the economic–environmental sustainability embodied in electricity flows of China. The results reveal significant asymmetry between where the electricity metal-water-carbon and the electricity value added embodied in electricity flows are transferred. In total, 15.0%, 17.4% and 13.1% of consumption-based electricity metal-water-carbon were outsourced through the electricity flow network, respectively, while only 9.3% of consumption-based electricity value added was outsourced. Wealthier provinces (e.g., Beijing and Guangdong) outsourced a large share of electricity metal-water-carbon to other provinces through the electricity flow network but retained a large share of electricity value added. The REI index between the electricity metal-water-carbon and the electricity value added indicates that money and environmental impacts flowing in the opposite directions have higher inequity. Some provinces, including Shaanxi (the highest REI value at 2.02 was observed for Shaanxi-Gansu), have gained economic benefits from electricity flows, exploiting the advantages of their electricity structures. This study offers insights into helping policymakers better address the potential environmental and economic implications of electricity flows to ensure the sustainable growth of electricity production and consumption.

Keywords: Electricity flows network; Multi-model framework; Quasi-input-output model; Economic-environmental equity (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1016/j.apenergy.2022.120001

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