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Cooling the cities of tomorrow in South-east Asia - A shift towards carbon neutrality

By District Energy posted 12-08-2021 07:01


The Business Times


More than 50 per cent of the world's population now lives in urban areas, compared to only 29 per cent in 1950. In Asean, it is estimated that by 2050, almost 70 per cent of the population will be living in cities. Such massive population density results in what is termed the "urban heat island" effect. Recent research has confirmed this effect throughout Asia in big cities such as Bangkok and Jakarta. Its effect occurs when buildings shed heat in order to cool themselves, which means neighbouring buildings themselves need more energy to keep cool. The rising urbanisation in Asia is leading to an increase in the size of urban heat islands, as well as their number. In some cities, the night-time temperature can be as much as 6 degrees Celsius higher than the surrounding suburbs and rural areas.

The growing demand for cooling in stressed urban environments has led to the increasing popularity in recent years of efficient district cooling systems (DCSs) that feature a centralised cooling plant serving a group of buildings. DCS owes the rise in its popularity to its proven ability to be as much as 30 per cent more efficient than traditional, decentralised air-conditioning units. Encouraging the growth of large-scale district energy systems has the potential to reduce the electricity demands in areas where cooling represents more than half of the power consumption. A DCS allows the centralised production of air-conditioning for an entire urban area, cutting energy consumption and CO2 emissions by 30 per cent. DCSs also remove the heat island effect.

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