Interactive National Virtual Water-Energy Nexus Networks

March 29, 2019 - Author: Zhenci Xu; Yingjie Li; ; Xiuzhi Chen; ; ; ; Julia Whyte; YingTang; Yunkai Li; Jianguo Liu

Journal or Book Title: Science of The Total Environment

Keywords: Virtual water; Virtual energy; Nexus; Trade; China; Network

Year Published: 2019

Across the globe, many regions import virtual resources to support their development. Although many researchers have studied transfers of a single virtual resource, interactions across two types of virtual resource transfer networks – energy and water, for example – have rarely been explored simultaneously. To address these knowledge gaps, we constructed and analyzed interprovincial virtual water and energy transfer networks, using China (the largest energy consumer and is undergoing severe water scarcity) as a demonstration. The results unexpectedly showed that more than 40% of provinces gained one kind of resource (either water or energy) through trade at the expense of losing the other kind of internal resource (energy or water), and 20% of provinces suffered a double loss of both water and energy. The remaining provinces gained both water and energy. Surprisingly, approximately 40% of transferred water/energy was from relatively water/energy-scarce provinces to water/energy-abundant provinces, further deepening resource inequality. Moreover, 33.3% and 26.7% of the provinces relied more on cross-border trade than on internal resources to support their water and energy consumption, respectively. Furthermore, 83.3% and 73.3% of provinces depended more on distant provinces via trade than adjacent ones to support their water and energy consumption, respectively. Overall, virtual water-energy networks tended to enhance each other. Trade largely shaped the nexus relationship between water and energy consumption in provinces. Our study suggests the urgent need to assess multiple virtual resource networks simultaneously in other countries to uncover unintended consequences and to develop cross-sectoral and holistic policies to achieve global sustainability and human well-being.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.03.298

Type of Publication: Journal Article

Tags: china, network, nexus, trade, virtual energy, virtual water


Authors

Anna Herzberger

Anna Herzberger
herzber5@msu.edu

Jianguo

Jianguo "Jack" Liu
517-432-5025
liuji@msu.edu

Kelly Kapsar

Kelly Kapsar
kapsarke@msu.edu

Mimi Gong

Mimi Gong
gongmimi@msu.edu

Ciara Hovis

Ciara Hovis
hoviscia@msu.edu


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