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Expo for a greener future

2010. 7 June

Many green technologies, especially energysaving home appliances are on display at the expo that will continue to benefit the city’s environment long after the event has closed.

by Sagoon Kruthanawat

( Asia, one of the world's highest emitters of greenhouse gases, is looking hard at ways that would help it to reduce its emissions and some of these technologies are very much visible in the ongoing World Expo in Shanghai.

The fact that Shanghai is one of China's most polluted cities makes the benefits of the green technologies being displayed at the event all the more evident.

Shanghai is one of China's most populous cities and one of the world's major ports. The population density in the central city is very high at 8,265 people per square kilometre and with the presence of significant number of heavy industries - primarily, machinery manufacturing, textiles and steel - exacerbates the pollution, according to the UN.

The city's infrastructure and environmental problems include housing shortages and air and water pollution. Heavy dependence on coal as a source of fuel for both industrial energy and residential heating in Shanghai has resulted in significant air pollution. Also, a daily flow of approximately 4 million cubic metres of untreated human waste enters the Huangpu River creating a serious water pollution and supply problem.

Many exhibitors feel that Shanghai's urban problems make it an ideal forum to present their "green technology", which ranges from lower-polluting buses to the high-technology products.

A pavilion hosted by Cisco Systems explores a technology called "TelePresence", a live video network that seamlessly connects different devices and systems and aims to give people the experience of feeling as if they are actually present at the other location. The technology is being promoted for a range of activities from conferencing to medical procedures such as examining patients at a distance.

Hausmann: Efficient coal-fired plant powering Expo

Shanghai expects to draw about 70 million visitors to the expo over its six-month duration, which would be a record for the global event. Some experts are deeply concerned about the impact this population surge will have on the city's environment.

Siemens, which is contracted to provide the lighting at the expo, has 1 billion worth of contracts for the event, with 90% of the amount for environment-friendly products and services.

Richard Hausmann, president and CEO of Siemens Ltd, said the company supplied most of the infrastructure required to ensure the stream of visitors can be accommodated in an environmentally friendly manner.

"Once again, we have proven that our environmental portfolio has exactly what cities need to hold events of world scale like the Expo 2010 in accordance with the principles of environmental protection," he said.

Dr Hausmann said many green technologies will be introduced at the expo that will continue to benefit the city's environment long after the event has closed. More than 50,000 energy-saving light-emitting diodes (LEDs) produced by Osram, a Siemens subsidiary, will illuminate the pavilions and boulevards. LEDs consume 80% less electricity than conventional incandescent bulbs.

He said the five permanent pavilions featured Siemens' building technology which reduced energy consumption by 25% compared to conventional buildings.

Another showcase of energy efficiency is the Hamburg House, a so-called "Passive House", which consumes less energy than nearly any other building in the world. The building generates nearly all the energy it needs by recovering heat energy from appliances used in the house and the people who visit it, with hardly any greenhouse gases generated.

Dr Hausmann said Siemens would also help assure adequate power supply for Shanghai both during and after the event. "Large demand for energy will be met by the coal-fired power plant in Waigaoqiao, built by us, which is able to cover 30% of total energy demand in Shanghai, but compared to conventional coal-fired power plants in China ... the higher efficiency reduces the power plant's CO2 emissions by almost 3 million tonnes per year," he said.

However, Zhang Quan, director of the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau, said that while Shanghai cannot solve all of its environmental problems just by riding the wave of hosting the World Expo, it can use the event to greatly improve its efforts.