Embodied greenhouse gas emissions from building China’s large-scale power transmission infrastructure

Wendong Wei, Jiashuo Li, Bin Chen, Meng Wang, Pengfei Zhang, Dabo Guan, Jing Meng, Haoqi Qian, Yaohua Cheng, Chongqing Kang, Kuishuang Feng, Qing Yang, Ning Zhang, Xi Liang, Jinjun Xue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

China has built the world’s largest power transmission infrastructure by consuming massive volumes of greenhouse gas (GHG)-intensive products such as steel. A quantitative analysis of the carbon implications of expanding the transmission infrastructure would shed light on the trade-offs among three connected dimensions of sustainable development, namely climate change mitigation, energy access and infrastructure development. By collecting a high-resolution inventory, we developed an assessment framework of, and analysed, the GHG emissions caused by China’s power transmission infrastructure construction during 1990–2017. We show that cumulative embodied GHG emissions have dramatically increased by more than 7.3 times those in 1990, reaching 0.89 Gt CO2 eq. in 2017. Over the same period, the gaps between the well-developed eastern and less-developed western regions in China have gradually narrowed. Voltage class, transmission line length and terrain were important factors that influenced embodied GHG emissions. We discuss measures for the mitigation of GHG emissions from power transmission development that can inform global low-carbon infrastructure transitions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNature Sustainability
Early online date5 Apr 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Apr 2021


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