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Title: Towards a sustainable distributed energy system in China : decision-making for strategies and policy implications
Authors: Lin, RJ 
Liu, Y 
Man, Y
Ren, JZ 
Issue Date: 2019
Source: Energy sustainability and society, 23 Dec. 2019, v. 9, no. 1, 51, p. 1-25
Abstract: Background The conflict between the Chinese fossil fuel-based economy and worsening environmental conditions requires further research to be carried out. Due to their clean, highly-efficient and flexible properties, distributed energy systems (DESs) have become a global research focus in the field of energy conservation. China, as the largest coal-fired energy user and highest power consumer in the world, has to conduct further research and apply the DESs to resolve the conflict. This study aims to provide a comprehensive review of DES development in China as well as improvement suggestions for the development of DESs by use of scientific analysis.
Methods The analysis of strengths-weaknesses-opportunities threats (SWOT) was adapted for the analysis of improvement strategies. The directions for how to improve the application of these strategies were selected by the prioritization method of analytic hierarchy processes (AHP) and evaluated by the best-worst method (BWM). The suggestions were provided according to the ranks figured out by AHP and BWM. Five enablers were selected from the respective economic, environmental, technological and social aspects for participating in this analysis.
Results Resulting from the SWOT analysis, capital investment, technology development and regulation completeness are three aspects of strategies summarized as SO strategies, ST strategies, WO strategies and WT strategies. The research perspectives of DESs that are suggested for investment, technology development and regulation completeness are illustrated by AHP and BWM. The results show that the reduction of solid particle emissions, the improvement of generation reliability, the improvement of the production rate, the reduction of production costs, the improvement of on-site safety, the fulfilment of electricity demand, the reduction of noxious gas emissions as well as the improvement of energy efficiency need to be carried out for the sake of environmental protection and quality of DES generation in China.
Conclusions There are high potentials for China to further develop and apply DES approaches. The direction of current development might be set to solve three problematic aspects, which are capital investment, technology development and regulation completeness.
Keywords: Distributed energy systems
Analytic hierarchy process
Best-worst method
Efficient energy generation
Chinese energy development
Publisher: BioMed Central
Journal: Energy sustainability and society 
ISSN: 2192-0567
EISSN: 2192-0567
DOI: 10.1186/s13705-019-0237-9
Rights: © The Author(s). 2019 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
The following publication Lin, R., Liu, Y., Man, Y. et al. Towards a sustainable distributed energy system in China: decision-making for strategies and policy implications. Energ Sustain Soc 9, 51, 1-25 (2019) is available at
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