In the winter months, the pollutant PM2.5, consisting of fine particles, spikes to levels classified as “very unhealthy” and “hazardous” on the U.S. Enviromental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index. Below are maximum, minimum and average daily readings taken at the U.S. Embassy in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital. DAILY AIR QUALITY IN ULAANBAATAR(JULY 2018-JULY 2019)
Source: U.S. State Department: AirNow (non-U.S. cities, measured at U.S. embassies), EPA Air Quality Index calculator Credit: Alyson Hurt/NPR, based on prior work by Katie Park/NPR and Matt Stiles for NPR
COMMISSIONING YEAR OF PIPES IN ULAANBAATAR DH SYSTEM
THE PROJECT Together with the key stakeholders, the consultants analysed and evaluated an array of options for the heat transmission networks (operated by UBDHC) and the distribution networks and customer interfaces (operated by OSNAAUG). The analysis showed that the limited funds available would have maximum positive environmental impact if focusing on extending and increasing the
capacity of the transmission network to displace stoves and local boiler houses. For the distribution side, the focus is on the roll-out of individual heating substations and heat meters to reduce consumption at existing apartment buildings. The UBDHC project will provide DH to parts of the City where apartments are currently heated by rudimentary, highly polluting neighbourhood-level coal boilers and some ger areas that are being redeveloped as formal settlements with apartment buildings. Introducing DH in these areas will eliminate these local sources of significant air pollution, replacing them with a more energy efficient heat supply primarily based on centralised CHP with much better pollution control measures. A “FUTURE PROOF” SOLUTION Today, Ulaanbaatar’s energy mix is primarily based on coal, and this includes the DH system. However, it is important to separate the heat transmission and distribution system from the coal-based thermal plants that currently supply it with heat. DH networks are energy distribution systems that transmit heat energy irrespective of the fuel used to generate it; they are analogous to electricity grids in this regard. The huge investment in pipelines, pumping stations, substations and end user installations can be used to distribute heat energy regardless of source.
As lower carbon sources of heat are introduced and coal-based sources eliminated, lower carbon heat can be provided to thousands of residents via the existing DH network. Age distribution for pipes in the Ulaanbaatar DH network. The age distribution is concentrated in two groups, i.e. pipes commissioned in the period 1979 – 1988 (say around 30% of the pipe length) and pipes commissioned in the period 2008 – 2018 (say around 55% of the pipe length). Source: UBDHC and COWI.
Ulaanbaatar is choking in the smog. View of the North part of the city, January 2019, Photo Andrew T. Christensen, COWI
D I S T R I CT ENERGY - SUS TA I NAB L E C I T Y T RANS FORMAT I ON
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