The Competitive Relationship Between Food and Energy Production for Water in China – Journal of Cleaner Production – article

The Competitive Relationship Between Food and Energy Production for Water in China

En Hua, Xinyu Wang, Bernard A. Engel, Shikun Sun, Yubao Wang | Journal of Cleaner Production


Water, Energy and Food(WEF)are key elements of economic and social sustainable development, and present a complex nexus. Existed WEF nexus research is mainly confined to qualitative analyses, and it needs constant improvement and increases quantitative analyses. In China, water security is the most prominent problem in the WEF-nexus, which is manifested in the competitive relationship between food and energy production for water. Therefore, the matter of alleviating water stress has become a difficult and hot issue. After improving the existed water footprint accounting method for food and energy production, this study calculated the food water footprints (blue water footprint and green water footprint) in the 31 provinces of mainland China in 2015, as well as the blue water footprints of major energy systems (coal, oil, gas and thermal power generation). This study proposed water resources pressure index (), water resources pressure contribution rate of food and energy (WCR), water consumption rate of food and energy (n) and competition composite index (CCI) of WEF, which were used to evaluate the consumption of water resources in food and energy production in different regions, and assess the intensity of competition for water resources in food and energy production. The results showed that the national food water footprint in 2015 was 690.8 Gm³, and the blue food water footprint was 287.8 Gm³. The main water-consuming blue energy water footprint was 18.5 Gm³, and coal production accounted for 9.9% and thermal power generation accounted for 87.6%. According to the competition indicators, the competition relationship among the administrative regions of the 31 provinces in mainland China was obtained. For example, 5 provinces had serious competition and 19 provinces had weak competition. The water consumption of the energy industry continues to grow rapidly by economic development. Corresponding measures should be taken according to the different competition levels for water resources.


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