Beijing’s Environmentally Friendly Olympics Attempt

“What damage or benefit does this cause to the environment?” is increasingly the first question being asked with any winter sports related development or event is announced.

With some very bad examples unfortunately identified in recent Winter Olympics, Beijing appears keen to highlight the environment-friendly credentials of the upcoming 2022 Games.

Initiatives include the new Olympic Big Air jump which has been built at Shougang in Western Beijing, next to the cooling towers of a former steel mill. The 164-metre-long slope is the first permanent construction of its kind in the world and will be used for snowboarding and freeski big air events at the Olympics next winter.

China is highlighting the fact that the facility re-cycles a former industrial site rather the using virgin ground and has a number of additional environmental initiatives including a fleet of hydrogen fuel cell buses, which will be used as shuttles during the Games.

“The bus is powered by hydrogen and emits nothing but water,” said a staff member at the park, who added, “Waste heat generated by the fuel cell can be used for cabin heating, which effectively reduces hydrogen and electricity consumption at the same time.”

Other initiatives include the use of a carbon dioxide transcritical refrigeration system at the Wukesong Ice Sports Center in western Beijing, which will serve as the training base for ice hockey teams at the Games.

“The system is the most advanced in the world.” said Zhao Gengfan, senior technical manager of the venue, who explained, “The refrigerant used is liquid carbon dioxide, which is sourced directly from nature. It doesn’t damage the environment like chemical refrigerants do in the case of a leakage. By adopting this system, we can also save a lot of energy and reclaim and reuse the heat generated during the ice-making process for ice melting and other purposes.”

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