last large coal-fired power plant in Beijing closed by John A. Herbert

by John A. Herbert

Great news from Beijing, mark your diary, on 20 March 2017, RTHK (www.rthk.org.hk) reported that “….the last large coal-fired power plant in Beijing has suspended operations, with the city’s electricity now generated by natural gas” LINK: http://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1320043-20170319.htm Meanwhile here in Asia’s World city, burning coal for power generation continues.

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GHG inventory emissions rising by John A. Herbert

by John A. Herbert
wasting energy lighting

GHG inventory emissions rising

Since 2000 Hong Kong installed approximately 9000 (wet) cooling towers according to EMSD, these provide heat rejection for comfort air conditioning, it follows the HKSAR Government policy to reduce energy consumption by 1,360 million kWh, and resultant greenhouse gas emissions by 950,000 tonnes annually[1].

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Airing your clean laundry

by John A. Herbert
no-drying_800w

It was beautiful weather today, it was hot, so hot in fact that the Hong Kong Observatory promulgated the Very Hot Weather warning, a glorious day indeed for drying your laundry in the sunshine, alas not in Hong Kong. Building and estate managers, for reasons unknown, actively prohibit carbon free laundry drying, stainless prohibition signs litter the site, proclaiming no drying. Perhaps they deem it to be ugly? but enterprising hongkongers hang their duvets, sheets, and bedding just outside the estate officers influence and control. This walkway (photo below) is a good example, just beyond the estate boundary, it doubles as a carbon free clothes drying area, beating the often lousy provisions provided at home and without burning fossil fuel. Is it time for a change of policy?

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It is said, you’ll never find an architect visiting their finished project, but sustainable living, demands more time and energy devoted for more thoughtful design not less. Carbon free clothes drying isnt going to spark the revolution, but its a small step in the right direction.

Design vs Performance

Building regulations, Energy codes, and like tend to specify a performance parameters for the design stage, not actual building performance. The building code requires a certain OTTV  (Overall Thermal Transmittance Value) defined by w/sqm, for the building envelope. However, the delivered performance is never measured.

The energy code also requires air conditioning chillers to meet certain catalogue performance targets, however the nominal capacity is tested at steady state standard ARI conditions, unlike real life which suffers hourly variations.

zcb_45_600w

Hong Kong’s Nett Zero Energy building, known locally as the Zero Carbon Building or ZCB has a display which clearly shows (recorded 17 October 2013)  the energy consumption (277,597 kwh) exceeds the energy generated (183,470 kwh). therefore the ZCB has only provided 66% of the total energy demand, and we must assume that no energy exported to the grid.

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ABOVE: Watering the lawn at Hong Kong’s ZCB is a low technology affair (17 Oct. 2013)

Setting design performance goal is admirable, but that is only one aspect of building performance, and don’t expect design parameters alone to create high performance, low carbon buildings.

zero carbon building hong kong

ABOVE: ZCB, noon, buildings shadows the PV panels.

Actual data, for example the BEEO Cap 610 demands that every commercial building post EMSD form EE5, that provides facts, and for the first time allows comparison between performance of similar building types.

ADB Supporting CCS?

Today’s press release by Asian Development Bank [1] boasts supporting finance for China’s the first coal-fired integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plant, so far so good, improved efficiency of generating facilities is necessary, and IGCC offers a great improvement if it maintained over the full life cycle. Further reading is worrying, ADB will also extend the funding for expansion, including Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS). However, as I reported here the UN has already removed CCS from it list of approved carbon removal strategies during COP15 in December 2009.

– John Herbert, consultant, Kelcroft E&M Limited
lowering the cost of doing business in Asia

No CCS – COP15 Copenhagen

John Herbert at energy seminar Dec 2009

Energy Seminar 4 Dec 2009 (left to right) - Joe Ng, John Herbert, Lawrence Wong, Dominic Yin, Zhao Ring, Edward Hung

The COP15 summit in Copenhagen has recognised the real risk and costs of pursuing CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) and will exclude it from the UN approved list of carbon reduction strategies [link].

CCS does sound great in principle doesn’t it? A technical solution that the West could sell, and sell into Asia that would solve all our problems.  However, many years after the CCS idea was conceived nobody has yet managed to build and continuously operate a single CCS plant, that says a lot about this technology. Also generation efficiency is reduced by 30% that translates in to a need to build 1/3 additional capacity just to maintain the status quo.

COP15 denial of CCS can only be good news, energy efficiency improvements are certainly more viable options and very cost effective alternative.

– John Herbert, Consultant, Kelcroft E&M Limited
lowering the cost of doing business in Asia