In late January of this year, the Beijing Organizing Committee for
the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games signed a contract
with the State
Grid Corporation of China to power as much as possible of the
2022 winter games in Beijing
and its co-host city of Zhangjiakou with renewable energy. The move
would make the 2022 Winter Olympics in China the
first to be powered by
renewable energy and, if the project goes to plan, provide a
model for large-scale events the world over. Here’s how it’s
all coming together.
How China plans to green power the world’s signature athletic
The State Grid Corporation’s plan is to construct the energy
layout for the Olympics as a sort of town in itself, operating on a
special grid developed for the facilities. This “smart grid”
will operate on wind and solar power, according to the
China Daily, and be used to power the facilities and other
operations of the games. Eleven of the 13 athletic facilities for
the games in Beijing are being repurposed from existing complexes
used in the 2008 Summer Olympics held in the city, including all of
the facilities to be used for ice sports. Additional spaces, such
as the capital steel plant pictured above, are being repurposed
into office space and other administrative facilities. “An
intensive display of the latest technologies and models of
scientific development involving energy saving, reuse of waste and
green construction will be put on during the Games,” He Jiankun,
the committee’s director, told China Daily.
Additionally, the co-host city of Zhangjiakou signed a deal with
the International Renewable Energy Association to boost its use of
renewables prior to the start of the 2022 Olympics, becoming
China’s first “energy transition city.” The goal is to move
away from fossil fuels across the city as a whole, not just for the
games, deriving 50 percent of its power from renewable sources by
2020. “The pursuit of a low-carbon Winter Olympics in 2022 will
not only support China’s ambition to lower harmful emissions, but
it will also see them pioneer a movement towards the cost-effective
decarbonisation of the world’s greatest spectacles,” said Adnan
Z. Amin, Director-General of the Association, in a
To hold itself accountable, the Olympic committee appointed a
sustainability advisory board consisting of scientists, professors,
urban planners, government officials, and more — 26 people in
total — to oversee energy development and sustainability planning
and execution. Once per year, the group will come together to
inspect progress as the facilities and grid are developed. As of
this summer, the production appears to be on schedule.
Is this all just a publicity stunt?
Of course, hosting the Olympics is far from a carbon-neutral
to China Daily, 52 construction projects are being undertaken
in Beijing and the Yangqing District for the event. The material
requirements for the Olympics are huge. Not to mention the
environmental footprint of the more than one million people that
will travel to attend, compete in, work at, or otherwise take part
in the Olympics. Add in the food they’ll eat, the trash they’ll
produce, and the transportation they’ll require after arrival.
But the Beijing committee’s ambitious plan is at least a step
forward and continues what has been a rising trend in China.
China’s Olympic move is a strategic one, intended to showcase
the country’s growing renewable energy sector, which has taken
hold in several of its major cities, Beijing included. The country
has invested heavily in renewable energy in recent years. Over
third of the country’s energy development in 2017 went into
renewables, the highest percentage anywhere in the world. While
this can be promoted repeatedly in state-run media, the Olympics
draws viewers from across the world.
As a sign of long-term commitment to improved sustainability,
the province of Hebei, home to Zhangjiakou and the country’s most
polluted province, has enacted an ambitious cleanup plan. According
report by Reuters, the province will reduce the use of coal and
cut pollution from heavy industry, as well as plant a new forest
and ecological protection zone around the city. “We must use the
staging of the Winter Olympics as an opportunity to stimulate
economic and social development, speed up our transformation and
upgrading, expand effective investment and strengthen poverty
alleviation,” Reuters quoted provincial Communist Party chief
Zhao Kezhi as saying.
Ok, but is powering an athletic building with renewable energy
actually doing anything to offset the massive footprint?
This all might seem quite small in the bigger picture of climate
change, particularly given that a country with nearly 1.5 billion
people already uses a lot of power and resources on a daily basis
even without hosting a major international event. But it’s
actually a positive sign for the future. As the most populous
country on Earth and home to a rising middle class, China’s
influence is increasingly huge and has the potential to drive
further investment by businesses around the globe. Thinking about
climate change can be a major downer, especially given the
flow of negative reports. To understand the importance of green
powering an event like the Olympics, try looking to the future
through the lens of innovation instead of through the damning signs
of current and past trends.
The recently released Geopolitics of
Renewables report, compiled by the Global Commission on the
Geopolitics of Energy Transformation, breaks down the role of
renewable energy around the world. The report noted China as a
leading force in renewable energy worldwide. “China has obtained
a leading position, not just in the manufacturing, but also in the
innovation and deployment of renewable energy technologies,” the
report said, adding that in 2017 China accounted for 45 percent of
total renewable energy investment worldwide.
Coupled with growing renewable energy investment in the
economies of other major world players like the United States —
which saw a record
$64.2 billion invested in 2018 alone — and seeing a greener
future actually seems possible. Why does the Olympics matter in
this big picture? Because it is among the most watched, talked
about, and celebrated recurring events on the planet. Investment is
driven by trend predictions, which are derived from public opinion.
Powering the Olympics with green energy, and broadcasting the
effort to the world, is one step further down the path of showing
the public that replacing old ways with new ones isn’t just
possible — it’s inevitable.
More like this: China
is becoming a serious ski destination. Here’s how.
Source: FS – All-Travel destinations-News2
2022 Winter Olympic to go green