Integrated Sustainability Assessment of Energy Systems at the Macro Level

Huijuan Xiao, Jingzheng Ren

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingChapter in an edited book (as author)Academic researchpeer-review


The sustainable development of the energy systems of China is becoming increasingly significant for both current and future generations. However, most of the existing studies focus on the evaluation of the energy system at the micro-level, which is a specific kind of energy type (e.g., hydrogen energy systems and electricity generation systems), with the energy system at the macro level missing. This neglect will set a barrier for the policymakers to better understand the situation of the whole energy system of China. To fill this gap, this study firstly constructed a framework of the energy system at the macro level, which is an integration of four important sub-systems, including energy construction system, energy production system, energy transformation system, and energy consumption system.15 criteria are then selected to evaluate the sustainability of the energy systems of Chinese 30 provinces from 2013 to 2017. Lastly, to further analyze the energy system structure types of each province, this study used the Q-type cluster method to group the 30 provinces into three categories. Some targeted policy implications are then proposed based on the sustainability evaluation results as well as the classification results. This study finds that (1) the sustainability of the whole energy system still has much room for improvement. Beijing (0.70) was the best performer of the whole energy system in 2017, while Ningxia (0.42) was the worst performer; (2) there is great inequality in the energy transformation system. Beijing has a much high level of sustainability in the transformation system, while the sustainable levels of the rest of the provinces are far from enough. Policymakers should not only place more emphasis on the improvement of sustainability of the energy transformation system but also on the reduction of the inequality in transformation system by technology diffusion from Beijing, and (3) based on the clustering result, Beijing always belongs to group one and has a relatively more sustainable energy system. However, Shanxi, Hunan, Inner Mongolia, Qinghai, Ningxia, and Xinjiang have similar patterns of low sustainability of the energy system. It can be interpreted some of these provinces are abundant in energy resources and are manufacturing-based provinces. The relatively low value-added and energy-intensive industry could damage the sustainability of the energy system.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEnergy Systems Evaluation (Volume 1)
Subtitle of host publicationSustainability Assessment
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-67529-5
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-67528-8
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jun 2021

Publication series

NameGreen Energy and Technology
ISSN (Print)1865-3529
ISSN (Electronic)1865-3537


  • Best-worst method
  • Cluster analysis
  • Energy indicator system
  • Energy system
  • Sustainability assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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