Community energy in action
Many of the world’s greatest, most livable cities – from Seoul, Korea to Copenhagen, Denmark – have massive community energy systems.
Here are a few examples illustrating how shared distribution networks and central energy hubs are becoming the energy system choice for forward-thinking cities.
2014 European Green Capital Copenhagen is a great example of an efficient district energy system that reduces both GHG emissions and costs for building residents and the community as a whole. Its co-energy system delivers heat and power by using different locally available fuels, including waste and biomass. Long term planning has enabled almost the entire city to be connected to the district energy system.
The City of London created a standard for every new development to meet at least 20% of their energy needs using renewable energy sources. For example, the developer of a new multi-building community in North London elected to build a small biomass plant serving the entire development as a cost-effective and robust way to meet this target.
Other developers are pursuing similar strategies and London is examining city-wide plans and policies to promote community energy as a key tool for achieving renewable energy and carbon reduction targets.
Munich is aiming to cut GHG emissions by 50% through a community heating system using renewable energy sources that powers the whole city. One energy source is geothermal energy tapped from a huge underground reservoir of hot water in the area.
Vancouver’s Southeast False Creek is a mixed-use planned neighbourhood with a community energy system that recovers waste heat from municipal sewage to supply about 70% of energy demand – Vancouver’s first renewable community energy heating system. The system produces 50% less GHG emissions than conventional energy sources.
Saint Paul in Minnesota benefits from the largest biomass-fired district energy system in North America. The city took old infrastructure – the existing steam heating system – and made it better, resulting in a cleaner, more flexible and cost-effective heating system.
South Korea’s district heating market has expanded steadily during the past decade, due As the number of families living in apartments in high density city neighbourhoods has increased, so too has South Korea’s reliance on community heating systems – particularly in Seoul. Around 15% of the country’s 14 million + households benefit from the advantages of district heating, and the government plans to increase this significantly.