Dongyu Island of Hainan province explores approaches to carbon neutrality

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A zero-carbon demonstration zone on Dongyu Island, the permanent site of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) in Bo’ao, south China’s Hainan province, completed its first-phase construction in March.

The decision to build the demonstration zone was made in 2022 by the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and the government of Hainan province, with an aim to explore a path to carbon neutrality in urban areas.

“Zero-carbon is what the demonstration zone stresses. However, it doesn’t stand for zero carbon emission, but carbon neutrality,” said Liu Lianwei, deputy director of Hainan province’s department of housing and urban-rural development.

It means that the demonstration zone employs emission reduction technologies in energy, transport, building and waste disposal sectors, as well as other countervailing measures such as building forest carbon sinks, to ensure that it can absorb however much carbon dioxide it generates and thus achieve zero carbon emission to the outside, Liu explained.

He noted that the zone also serves as an exemplary model. According to statistics, cities generate 71 percent to 76 percent of the world’s total carbon emissions, so the green and low-carbon upgrading of urban built-up areas is of important significance to achieving global carbon neutrality.

The urban construction of Dongyu Island was completed some 20 years ago. The island faces challenges that most urban built-up areas would face, such as outdated facilities and low cyclic utilization of resources.

It’s more difficult and challenging to carry out zero-carbon pilot programs in urban built-up areas than in newly constructed areas, but it is more relevant and helps explore more replicable experiences.

The zero-carbon demonstration zone on Dongyu Island serves as a micro model that helps advance green and low-carbon transition in other parts of China, and sets an example in the exploration of sustainable development and carbon neutrality, said Hu Yaowen, head of the Hainan branch of CAUPD Beijing Planning and Design Consultants Ltd.

On Dongyu Island, all the vehicles are powered by new energy.

“Fuel vehicles are not allowed to run on the island,” Yu Jiaxi, general manager of the control center of the Hainan subsidiary of China Southern Power Grid, told People’s Daily, adding that the island has comprehensively greened its transport.

Green and intelligent parking facilities have been built on the island, and 398 charging poles on the island are now connected to a provincial charging infrastructure network. Besides, there are also intelligent charging stations featuring photovoltaic power generation and power storage, which can fully charge a vehicle within 10 minutes at the fastest.

Near the island, there is a 20MW agrivoltaic solar farm, and over half of its capacity has been connected to the power grid. Besides, a 5.1MW distributed photovoltaic station is under construction on the island, and 3.82MW of the capacity has been put into use so far.

In addition, the island has 17 emergency power generation vehicles that ensure normal operation of facilities and devices on the island at night and on days with bad weathers and insufficient sunlight.

How to reduce carbon emissions while maintaining people’s living standard and work efficiency is a problem that must be addressed during the low-carbon transition in urban built-up areas. Therefore, the island worked to maximize the utilization of resources focusing on the recycling of solid waste, garbage recycling, and rainwater harvesting. It is learned that the island collects and recycles about 150,000 tons of rainwater on an annual basis.

The press center of the BFA, which covers a total area of 4,000 square meters, is the largest stand-alone structure on Dongyu Island. This big building has also been upgraded to a greener version.

According to Liu, there are wind turbine kits in front of the press center, which can generate electricity even when there are only gentle breezes. The facade of the building is covered by 629 solar panels, and behind it stands a gigantic “battery” that stores green electricity. The battery adopts technology independently developed by a research team from Tsinghua University, which features a battery life nearly four times longer than traditional lithium batteries. The press center has built a top-notch PEDF (photovoltaic, energy storage, direct current and flexibility) system, which reduces its annual power consumption from 650,000 kWh to 520,000 kWh. Besides, the center also generates 550,000 kWh of electricity each year.



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