Message for Achim Steiner, UN Environment Executive Director. Launch of the District Energy in Cities Report - Paris, 25 February 2015
Ligia Noronha, Director of the UNEP Divison of Technology, Industry and Economics, gave a an address on 26 February at the high level opening of the EU Conference on Heating and Cooling in the EU Transition, alongside Miguel Arias Canete, European Commisioner fr Climate Action and Energy.
Greenhouse gas emissions reductions. DES allows for a transition away from fossil fuel use and can result in a 30–50 per cent reduction in primary energy consumption. DES is a core strategy chosen by the City of Paris for its pathway to a 75 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050; the city’s waste-to-energy plants alone avoid the emission of 800,000 tons of CO2 annually.
Air pollution reductions. By reducing fossil fuel use, DES can lead to reductions in indoor and outdoor air pollution and the associated health impacts. In China, the city of Anshan aims to reduce its use of heavily polluting coal by a projected 1.2 million tons annually through the pooling of separate networks and the capture of 1 gigawatt of waste heat from a steel plant in the city.
Energy-efficiency improvements. Linking the heat and electricity sectors through district energy infrastructure and utilizing low-grade energy sources, such as waste heat or free cooling, can greatly improve the operational efficiency of new or existing buildings. In many cities – such as Dubai in the United Arab Emirates – district cooling can result in 50 per cent reductions in electricity use compared to other forms of cooling. Gujarat International Finance Tec-City, known as GIFT City, India, is developing the country’s first district cooling system, which could reduce electricity demand for cooling by 65-80 per cent.
Use of local and renewable resources. Through economies of scale and the use of thermal storage, district energy systems are one of the most effective means for integrating renewable energy sources into the heating and cooling sectors. DES also enables higher shares of renewable power production through balancing. DES is enabling 11 of the 45 cities to reach, in principle, 100% renewable energy or carbon-neutral targets.
Resilience and energy access. DES can boost resilience and energy access through their ability to improve the management of electricity demand, reduce the risk of brownouts and adapt to pressures such as fuel price shocks, for example, through cost- effective decarbonization, centralized fuel-switching and affordable energy services. Yerevan, Armenia, is retrofitting and modernizing its district heating systems, which historically had losses as high as 50 per cent. After the first phase of refurbishment, 10,000 residents were reconnected, reducing energy consumption by 50.2 GWh annually and providing heat at cheaper rates than with residential gas boilers.
Green economy. DES can contribute to the transition to a green economy through for example employment from jobs created in system design, construction, equipment manufacturing, and operation and maintenance. Oslo, Norway’s, employment benefits from DES are estimated at 1,375 full-time jobs. St. Paul, Minnesota, USA, uses DES fueled by municipal wood waste to displace 275,000 tons of coal annually and to keep US$12 million in energy expenses circulating in the local economy.