BERC China Focus hosts LBNL Researchers for Discussion on Low-Carbon Development of Chinese Cities

What better way to end your week than learning about the low-carbon development pathways in Chinese cities? On March 9th, 2017, BERC China Focus invited speakers, Nina Zheng Khanna, Stephanie Ohshita, and Ying Huang, from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) to share various modeling tools that design low-carbon development strategies for Chinese cities. Stephanie and Nina are both researchers at LBNL’s China Energy Group, who have extensive expertise in energy end-use modelling and energy-based policies that address local air pollution issues and global climate change. Ying is a visiting researcher at the China Energy Group from the Guangzhou Institute of Energy Conversion; she is learning about the models developed by LBNL and applying them to reduce the carbon emissions of various economic activities in Guangzhou.

Nina kicked off the night with an informative opening on the GREAT model (Green Resources & Energy Analysis Tool). She explained to the audience on how different datasets of electricity consumption, carbon emissions, and economic growth trends can be fed into this model to produce different policy scenarios. To ensure the feasibility of these policies, these scenarios focus on bottom-up approaches which prioritize each city’s economic development goals with their low-carbon-emissions commitments.

While the GREAT model helps cities visualize different scientific and technological options that reduce their greenhouse gases emissions, Stephanie shared that it is best complemented with the ELITE Cities model (Eco and Low-Carbon Indicator for Evaluating Cities). The ELITE Cities model allows cities to compare their low-carbon development pathways with benchmarks that were set from similar cities’ best performance standards. This comparison motivates cities to achieve their low-carbon goals while setting realistic goals that can be achieved given their financial and human resources.

Approximately 70 attendees participated in this BERC Shop, and paid close attention to the explanations and applications of these models developed by LBNL China Energy Group.

Approximately 70 attendees participated in the BERC Shop, and paid close attention to the explanations and applications of the models developed by LBNL China Energy Group.

After hearing about the principles and applications of the GREAT and ELITE Cities models, the audience were thoroughly impressed by the real-world applications of these models and wanted to learn more. Our last speaker, Ying, fulfilled the audience’s curiosity by applying the GREAT model to Guangzhou, and crafted environmental and policy modifications that are specific to Guangzhou. Ying emphasized that energy consumption is a major consideration in the low-carbon development in Guangzhou, because the city currently imports 60% of its electricity from Western China which burns coal to generate electricity. Accounting for the greenhouse gas emissions associated with purchased electricity is going to help Guangzhou plan its future electricity generations to be less carbon-intensive.

As the speakers wrapped up their presentations, the audience eagerly participated in a Q&A session to further their understanding on how LBNL’s China Energy Group worked with Chinese cities to address their greenhouse gases emissions. When working bilaterally with Chinese cities, the researchers highlighted cities’ initiatives in implementing low-carbon strategies within their realm of governance as an important point of collaboration. Cities that achieve their reduction targets receive rewards in the form of subsidies from the Chinese Central Government, which help incentivize their participation and collaboration with institutions such as LBNL’s China Energy Group. The researchers also found it most effective to work with energy and economic agencies in each Chinese city in order to forge collaboration on low-carbon development that also grow each city’s economy. As the Q&A session concluded, the audience and the speakers all learned from each other’s insight. This BERCShop was a huge success in igniting intellectual inquiry, facilitating knowledge-sharing, and inspiring the audience to engage with cities’ low-carbon developments from all perspectives.