Impact of urban water supply on energy use in China: a provincial and national comparison

  • Kate Smith
  • Shuming Liu
  • Yi Liu
  • Dragan Savic
  • Gustaf Olsson
  • Tian Chang
  • Xue Wu
Original Article


To reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and help mitigate climate change, urban water systems need to be adapted so that electrical energy use is minimised. In this study, energy data from 2011 was used to quantify energy use in China’s urban water supply sector. The objective was to calculate the energy co-benefits of urban water conservation policies and compare energy use between China and other countries. The study investigated influencing factors with the aim of informing the development of energy efficient urban water infrastructure. The average energy use per cubic metre and per capita for urban water supply in China in 2011 was 0.29 kWh/m3 and 33.2 kWh/cap year, respectively. Total GHG emissions associated with energy use in the urban water supply sector were 7.63 MtCO2e, or carbon dioxide equivalent. Calculations using these indicators showed significant energy savings could result from water conservation measures. A comparison between provinces of China showed a direct correlation between energy intensity of urban water supply and the population served per unit length of pipe. This may imply energy and emission intensity can be reduced if more densely populated areas are supplied by a corresponding pipe density, rather than by a low-density network operating at higher flow rates. This study also found that while the percentage of electrical energy used for urban water supply tended to increase with the percentage of population served, this increase was slower where water supply was more energy efficient and where a larger percentage of population was already supplied.


China Climate change Electrical energy use Greenhouse gas emissions Sustainability Water-energy nexus Water infrastructure Water supply 



This work was supported by the Tsinghua-Veolia Environnement Joint Research Center for Advanced Environmental Technology (Project Number: CITY2) and the Tsinghua Independent Research Grant.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kate Smith
    • 1
  • Shuming Liu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yi Liu
    • 1
  • Dragan Savic
    • 3
  • Gustaf Olsson
    • 4
  • Tian Chang
    • 1
  • Xue Wu
    • 1
  1. 1.School of EnvironmentTsinghua UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Tsinghua-Veolia Environnement Joint Research Center for Advanced Environmental TechnologyTsinghua UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.Centre for Water SystemsUniversity of ExeterExeterUK
  4. 4.IEALund UniversityLundSweden

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