Natl Sci Rev. 2022 Mar 14;9(7):nwac050. doi: 10.1093/nsr/nwac050. eCollection 2022 Jul.
The household energy mix has significant impacts on human health and climate, as it contributes greatly to many health- and climate-relevant air pollutants. Compared to the well-established urban energy statistical system, the rural household energy statistical system is incomplete and is often associated with high biases. Via a nationwide investigation, this study revealed high contributions to energy supply from coal and biomass fuels in the rural household energy sector, while electricity comprised ∼20%. Stacking (the use of multiple sources of energy) is significant, and the average number of energy types was 2.8 per household. Compared to 2012, the consumption of biomass and coals in 2017 decreased by 45% and 12%, respectively, while the gas consumption amount increased by 204%. Increased gas and decreased coal consumptions were mainly in cooking, while decreased biomass was in both cooking (41%) and heating (59%). The time-sharing fraction of electricity and gases (E&G) for daily cooking grew, reaching 69% in 2017, but for space heating, traditional solid fuels were still dominant, with the national average shared fraction of E&G being only 20%. The non-uniform spatial distribution and the non-linear increase in the fraction of E&G indicated challenges to achieving universal access to modern cooking energy by 2030, particularly in less-developed rural and mountainous areas. In some non-typical heating zones, the increased share of E&G for heating was significant and largely driven by income growth, but in typical heating zones, the time-sharing fraction was <5% and was not significantly increased, except in areas with policy intervention. The intervention policy not only led to dramatic increases in the clean energy fraction for heating but also accelerated the clean cooking transition. Higher income, higher education, younger age, less energy/stove stacking and smaller family size positively impacted the clean energy transition.