According to projections, Qingdao will have an additional 180 million square meters worth of building space that will need to be heated by 2020 –– at the end of 2013, the city only reported having 130 million square meters of buildings. Such significant growth in such a short period of time poses a challenge to the city in terms of environmental health. If Qingdao is still relying on coal to heat buildings by 2018, the local environment will face serious consequences.
To create infrastructure for clean heating, the city of Qingdao has established a series of goals to ultimately reduce more than 315 million tonnes of coal consumed and nearly 8 million tonnes of CO2 emitted. These targets are outlined in the city’s “Special planning for clean energy heating in Qingdao (2014-2020) plan, highlighting ways to use surplus heat, clean energy and renewable energy. The document also discusses the issue of existing coal boilers, providing substituting other energy sources in their place in an effort to reduce the emissions associated with the boilers.
To encourage the use of clean energy in the place of coal, the city has opted to offer financial subsidies for clean energy products and retrofitted coal boilers. This initiative has explored a wide range of energy sources, including co-generation, surplus industrial waste heat, solar, hydropower, wind power and natural gas, all in an effort to begin the process of developing a smart energy grid.
Given the size of the city and rate of growth within Qingdao, this project will ultimately impact 12 million people, significantly improving their quality of life. This initiative works to dispel the commonly-held belief that clean energy is expensive and too new to be reliable, thereby raising heating expenses and negatively impacting the quality of heating available. By incorporating the development of clean energy at the municipal level and by subsidizing the proliferation of clean energy infrastructure, Qingdao’s project team has proven the feasibility of using alternative energy sources in rapidly-growing cities.