Air quality, health, and climate implications of China's synthetic natural gas development

Yue Qin, Fabian Wagner, Noah Scovronick, Wei Peng, Junnan Yang, Tong Zhu, Kirk R. Smith, Denise Leonore Mauzerall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

37 Scopus citations

Abstract

Facing severe air pollution and growing dependence on natural gas imports, the Chinese government plans to increase coal-based synthetic natural gas (SNG) production. Although displacement of coal with SNG benefits air quality, it increases CO2emissions. Due to variations in air pollutant and CO2 emission factors and energy efficiencies across sectors, coal replacementwith SNG results in varying degrees of air quality benefits and climate penalties. We estimate air quality, human health, and climate impacts of SNG substitution strategies in 2020. Using all production of SNG in the residential sector results in an annual decrease of ∼32,000 (20,000 to 41,000) outdoor-air-pollutionassociated premature deaths, with ranges determined by the low and high estimates of the health risks. If changes in indoor/household air pollution were also included, the decrease would be far larger. SNG deployment in the residential sector results in nearly 10 and 60 times greater reduction in premature mortality than if it is deployed in the industrial or power sectors, respectively. Due to inefficiencies in current household coal use, utilization of SNG in the residential sector results in only 20 to 30% of the carbon penalty compared with using it in the industrial or power sectors. Even if carbon capture and storage is used in SNG production with today's technology, SNG emits 22 to 40%more CO2than the same amount of conventional gas. Among the SNG deployment strategies we evaluate, allocating currently planned SNG to households provides the largest air quality and health benefits with the smallest carbon penalties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4887-4892
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume114
Issue number19
DOIs
StatePublished - May 9 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

Keywords

  • Carbon capture and storage
  • Coal
  • PM
  • Premature mortality
  • Residential sector

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