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China Builds Model Low-carbon City in Xinjiang

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Turpan, a small Silk Road town in northwest China that became prosperous as a trade hub nearly 2,000 years ago, is earning renown for another reason today.

In accordance with the plans of the National Development and Reform Commission, and the National Energy Administration, the Turpan city government has been required to build an 8.8-square-km area into a national model for green city development.

Designed to be a model environmentally-friendly city in western China, the new low-carbon city depends not on fossil fuels but solar and wind energy for lighting and hot water supply.

It also uses geothermal resources for winter heating and summer cooling, as well as employing electric buses and taxis with zero pollutant for public transport.

Wang Guangtao, chairman of the Environment Protection and Resources Conservation Committee of the 11th National People's Congress, expects the project to be valuable for "the strategic adjustment of China's energy consumption structure."

"It is the first experimental project in China's arid western interior to develop energy-efficient and pollution-free cities. It will set an example for the use of new and clean energy," he said.

With 3,200 hours of sunshine per year, about 1,000 hours more than other Chinese regions at the same latitude, Turpan is rich in solar energy.

Project designer Zhu Xiaodi, chief of the Beijing Institute of Architectural Design (BIAD), said the new city aims to make full use of its advantages in solar energy to change the pattern of electricity generation away from the conventional energy supply mode dominated by coal-fired power plants.

A photovoltaic power generation plant with installed capacity of 13 megawatts will be built to supply electrical power for the area's residents, to illuminate public facilities and to drive public transportation vehicles, Zhu said.

Given China's economic expansion has heavily relied upon coal, which has provided 70 percent of the country's primary energy, much higher than the world average of 29 percent, local authorities hope the Turpan experiment will be a viable way for the country's vast western interior to improve energy use and reduce pollution.

Apart from solar energy, the city is also exploring the use of wind power and geothermal resources for public transportation.

Memet Kurban, an official at the project's command center, said solar panels would be installed on the rooftops of all buildings in the new city to generate electricity and heat water.

The number of private cars will be reduced to the least number possible while solar energy storage batteries will be used to power buses and taxis.

Special heat-pump technology is used to make use of shallow geothermal resources in the area.

Vice Major Su Tiancheng said a planned population of 60,000 will move into the new city. By the end of the year, 7,000 residential apartments with a combined floor space of 700,000 square meters will have been built, and local government authorities and enterprises are expected to move in.

The first-phase of the construction, which began last Wednesday. involved the construction of municipal infrastructure, residential buildings, public utilities and a central water park.

A special team made up of experts from BIAD, the International Eurasian Academy of Science, the Solar and Wind Evaluation Center of the China Meteorological Administration and the Guangzhou Urban Planning and Designs Institute are responsible for the overall design of the new city.

(Xinhua News Agency May 12, 2010)

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