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Authors: Qin, Yue
Advisors: Mauzerall, Denise L.
Contributors: Public and International Affairs Department
Keywords: Air quality
human health
natural gas
Subjects: Environmental science
Public policy
Atmospheric sciences
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: China’s coal-dominated energy structure is partly responsible for its domestic air pollution, local water stress, and the global climate change. Primarily to tackle the haze issue, China has been actively promoting a nationwide coal to natural gas end-use switch. My dissertation focuses on evaluating the air quality, carbon, and water impacts and their interactions in China’s natural gas industry. Chapter 2 assesses the lifecycle climate performance of China’s shale gas in comparison to coal based on stage-level energy consumption and methane leakage rates. I find the mean lifecycle carbon footprint of shale gas is about 30–50% lower than that of coal under both 20 year and 100 year global warming potentials (GWP20 and GWP100). However, primarily due to large uncertainties in methane leakage, the lifecycle carbon footprint of shale gas in China could be ~15–60% higher than that of coal across sectors under GWP20. Chapter 3 evaluates the air quality, human health, and the climate impacts of China’s coal-based synthetic natural gas (SNG) development. Based on earlier 2020 SNG production targets, I conduct an integrated assessment to identify production technologies and end-use applications that will bring as large air quality and health benefits as possible while keeping carbon penalties as small as possible. I find that, due to inefficient and uncontrolled coal combustion in households, allocating currently available SNG to the residential sector proves to be the best SNG allocation option. Chapter 4 compares the air quality, carbon, and water impacts of China’s six major gas sources under three end-use substitution scenarios, which are focused on maximizing air pollutant emission reductions, CO2 emission reductions, and water stress index (WSI)-weighted water consumption reductions, respectively. I find striking national air-carbon/water trade-offs due to SNG, which also significantly increases water demands and carbon emissions in regions already suffering from severe water stress and having the largest per capita carbon footprint. Gas sources other than SNG may bring national air-carbon-water co-benefits. However, end-use deployment can cause enormous variations in air quality, carbon, and water impacts, with notable air-carbon synergies but air-water trade-offs.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Public and International Affairs

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