Water and energy circulation characteristics and their impacts on water stress at the provincial level in China

  • Siyang Hong
  • Hong Yang
  • Hongrui WangEmail author
  • Tao Cheng
Original Paper


Water and energy circulate between provinces and sectors through products and services. The multi-scale input–output method can quantify the resources embodied in direct consumption, domestic trade and foreign trade and the resources in intermediate input and final consumption. In this study, this method is used to calculate the embodied water intensity and embodied energy intensity at the provincial level in China. The impacts of interprovincial water and energy transfers on provincial water stress were analyzed with reference to their water stress index. The results show that direct consumption is the main component of the embodied water intensity, with an average proportion of 52.21%. However, differences among provinces are significant, ranging from 14.82 to 80.11%. The embodied energy intensity is mainly reflected in domestic imports, with a national average of 61.01%. Domestic exports (3.69 × 1011 m3), urban household consumption (2.01 × 1011 m3), and gross fixed capital formation (1.49 × 1011 m3) share the largest proportion of final consumption, and they are also the main components in the final consumption of energy. Provincial water and energy transfers do not play major roles in relieving water stress in the net inflow areas but increase water stress in the net outflow areas. Provinces with high embodied water intensity and energy-induced water intensity tend to transfer more water to other provinces, while provinces with low intensity receive more supplies from other areas. Therefore, it is important to focus on improving the water use efficiency in provinces with active trade and high water and energy intensities, pay more attention to the demand side and avoid the continuous expansion of indirect consumption due to excessive restrictions on direct consumption.


Multi-scale input–output method Embodied resource intensity Energy-induced water Water stress China 


Author Contributions

The article was mainly written by SH, HY and HW provided many valuable comments. TC collected the data and reviewed the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final version of the manuscript.


This research was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 51879010, 51479003), the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2018YFC0407900) and the 111 Project (Grant No. B18006).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Supplementary material

477_2019_1735_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 1049 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Siyang Hong
    • 1
  • Hong Yang
    • 2
  • Hongrui Wang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tao Cheng
    • 1
  1. 1.College of Water Science, Beijing Key Laboratory of Urban Hydrological Cycle and Sponge City TechnologyBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Eawag, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and TechnologyDubendorfSwitzerland

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