Shanghai plans to build island eco-city

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 December, 2007, 12:00am

Chongming project touted as the largest sustainable urban development in the world

Shanghai Industrial Investment (Holdings), an investment arm of the Shanghai municipal government, is developing an 'eco-city' on Chongming Island, in the city's north that will be constructed entirely on clean and green principles.

Covering 860 hectares in Chongming's Dongtan area, the proposed project, when delivered, is expected to be the largest sustainable urban development in the world.

Plans are to make the city energy self-sufficient, with power delivered from a combination of renewable energy sources, with electric and hydrogen-fuelled cars to be the main form of transport.

Shanghai Industrial has been appointed the sole developer of the ambitious project, aimed at creating a carbon-free living environment on the island.

In 2004, the mainland developer signed an agreement of co-operation with Ireland's Treasury Holdings to develop the eco-city.

'People living within the development will enjoy a pollution-free environment. Even the food will come from an organic farm on the island, which will ensure its quality and safety,' said Shanghai Industrial Investment executive director Ma Chengliang.

Under the preliminary plan, he said, inhabitants or visitors who drive cars will have to use environmentally friendly vehicles or use public transportation in the city.

To minimise carbon dioxide emissions, about 40 per cent of the energy used by the island will be produced by wind energy, 20 per cent will come from solar energy, with the remainder from the produce of the fields.

Mr Ma said Britain recently succeeded in developing a carbon-free living environment for a small-scale residential project.

'But the scale of the development on Chongming Island is much bigger. We are now solving the technological problems that arise, since it is difficult to create a big carbon-free city,' he added.

The first phase of the development has a site area of 740 hectares and will provide a total gross floor area of 4.22 million square metres.

About 54 per cent of the area is earmarked for residential use, while the remaining 46 per cent will be allocated to community uses such as schools and hotels.

Although the island is located close to Shanghai's city centre, its economic development has been restricted since it is linked to the mainland by ferry only.

The island site covers 129,000 hectares, smaller only than the islands of Taiwan and Hainan. The mainland government also plans to build a Disneyland theme park on the island.

Nearby Chang Xing Island and Heng Ha Island will also be included in the overall development of the area, and will boost the total area of the project to 141,000 hectares.

To improve transport links, the government is spending US$1.6billion to build a nine km tunnel and a 13km bridge.

The bridge and tunnel are scheduled for completion in 2009, while the first phase of the residential development has been targeted for completion in 2010.

While it now takes over an hour to commute from the island into the urban area of Shanghai, it will take only 45 minutes after the bridge and tunnel are completed.

The investment costs of the project are higher than regular mainland property development since the developer will have to introduce wind and solar energy sources and other carbon-free technologies.

Mr Ma said this would mean higher construction costs, but offsetting that would be lower energy bills since the city's energy consumption would be only 60 per cent of conventional requirements.