Beijing heating goes solar

Updated: 2011-10-21 11:17

By Zheng Jinran and Cao Yin (China Daily)

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 Beijing heating goes solar

A model of the solar water-heating system at the China International Exhibition on Housing Industry in Beijing on Sept 27. [Photo/ Xinhua]

BEIJING - Beijing authorities plan to promote a solar water-heating system and a more energy-efficient charging method for central heating for the coming winter to save energy and cut emissions.

New residential and public buildings in Beijing should install a central hot water system that uses heat from industrial production or solar panels, according to a draft plan released on Monday by the Beijing Municipal Commission of Housing and Urban-Rural Development.

Existing buildings could convert their systems if the plan was approved by two-thirds of a community's residents.

Developers of new residential units should make initial investment in the central solar water-heating system, and the property management agency or other service agencies would perform regular maintenance.

"The whole process, including the purchasing of equipment and setting the charges for hot water will be decided by the market," an announcement the municipal commission e-mailed to China Daily on Wednesday said.

"And the municipal authority would make regulations to lead and supervise the process."

The charges for the solar heating systems for residences built by different developers would be different, it said. The initial investment for the system would be a tiny part of the building's construction cost, meaning property prices would not be greatly affected.

The cost would be cheaper than hot water from electric or gas systems. The municipal government would also subsidize the project.

"So promoting the solar water-heating system could greatly reduce energy consumption and be helpful in improving living standards," the municipal commission said.

Zhou Zhiwei, a professor specializing in new energies at Tsinghua University, said the plan was a good way to establish a collective solar energy system.

"The efficiency of a central heating tank will be higher than individual ones because the bigger the tank is, the more energy can be saved," he said.

Less heat would be lost as well, he said.

Meanwhile, the metering system for central heating services in residential and public buildings would also undergo changes this year to improve energy conservation. Under the new system, charges would be applied according to heat consumption instead of home size.

"According to statistics we collected during the last heating season, the majority of houses that adopted this new metering method paid less for the heating service than those metered in usual ways," said He Yingqiu, a senior official with the Beijing Municipal Commission of City Administration and Environment.

By the end of last year, this metering method was implemented in buildings covering 40 million square meters, including 5 million square meters of residential apartments. By 2013, it will be expanded to as much as 150 million square meters, she said.

But He added that there were several problems that must be solved, such as the quality of metering products and details on standard prices.

"Some property management agencies would add other charges into heating service fees, so it's important to make prices clear and stable," said Dong Jinshi, a senior expert with the Beijing Society for Environmental Science.

Because the new metering method would help cut energy consumption and emissions, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development has decided to promote it to more areas in North China, where heating needs are greater due to colder winters.

"It will reduce more than 30 percent of energy in the central heating service if these provinces adopt this metering method, according to the experience of western countries," said Qiu Baoxing, vice-minister of housing and urban-rural development, as China National Radio reported.

The nation could save 20 million tons of standard coal and cut 40 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, he said.

In North China, about 317 million square meters of residential apartments have adopted this method as of last year, accounting for only 10 percent of the total urban residential areas.