Two projects creating efficient district energy have won awards for Demonstration of energy efficient district energy systems in China.
Both projects were designed in their initial phase by Zhuolun Chen, senior advisor at UNEP DTU Partnership’s Copenhagen Centre on Energy Efficiency.
The awards were given by the China Association of Building Energy Efficiency – China District Energy Association in September 2018 and were given to a total of six projects. As the only two projects, the two developed by Zhuolun Chen won in the category of High Energy Efficiency.
The projects are in the cities of Zhuhai and Guangzhou.
Senior advisor Zhuolun Chen was involved in project development, feasibility studies and design in the now operating systems before joining UNEP DTU Partnership, but is now working on replication and duplication of the successful projects.
A new energy efficient island
The project in Zhuhai is the first city-level multiple energy supply system in South China, developed in the very beginning of the planning of the brand new HengQing island. It integrates electricity, district cooling with hot water as a tri-generation system which is supplied to end-users as part of basic service on the city level, like water, electricity and natural gas.
The island is a 106 sq. km completely new urban planning project. HengQing is now home to more than 20 million sq. m of commercial buildings, all supplied by a central energy system.
Through detailed urban energy planning, an environment friendly, high energy efficient, low carbon emission energy system is in place at city level that each year reduces the electricity consumption by 400 million KWh, phases out refrigerant of 500 tons per year and cut the CO2 emission of 0.4 million tons per year.
The approach designed by Zhuolun Chen and others in the HengQin project is replicable in similar climate areas, such as Southern China, India and island states.
Efficient retrofitting for major cities
With 13.5 million inhabitants, Guangzhou is one of China’s three biggest cities. Retrofitting existing buildings in Guangzhou therefore highlights the immense potential for energy efficiency savings and emissions reductions by using district energy solutions.
Starting with a group of commercial and public high-rise buildings in 2007, the award-winning project is the earliest district cooling system in China, and has since proven financially very successful.
The system consulted and designed by UNEP DTU Partnership partner, South China University of Technology, shifts peak hours of electricity to off-peak hours by using ice storage for cooling. Ice is generated during off-peak hours, and is then used for cooling instead of electrical chillers during peak hours. This moves more than 25% of electricity use from peak hours to off-peak hours.
District cooling is on average at least 30% more energy efficient than individual chillers, and in Guangzhou more and more buildings have been linked to the district cooling system. This covers both retrofitting of existing buildings and building new commercial spaces.
Tackling the energy transition in Chinese cities
China is the biggest energy consumer in the world, and even when it comes to district energy, the most common source of heating is coal, using low efficiency boilers and lacking in emissions control.
Through the Copenhagen Centre on Energy Efficiency, UNEP DTU Partnership is working to reach the Sustainable Development Goal of doubling the global rate of energy efficiency improvements.
A large part of this work takes place through the UN Environment District Energy in Cities Initiative.
The mission of this initiative is to help cities tackle the energy transition and solve the air pollution problem, focusing on local government level.
Through the District Energy in Cities Initiative, UNEP DTU Partnership has analysed market and policies for district heating and cooling in China, identifying policy framework necessary for energy transition.
The Initiative is going to select pilot cities and pilot projects to implement high energy efficient district heating and cooling systems with renewable energy and waste heat. Through the support from GEF funding, the Initiative has worked with capacity building for local authorities, to enable development of long-term local energy strategies.