The Green Journal is featuring three Low Carbon Model Towns (LCMT) in Asia-Pacific based on the feasibility studies conducted by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). This is the first instalment of the series.

Da Nang , located in the centre of Vietnam, 764 km from Hanoi and 964 km from Ho Chi Minh City, is a booming tourism development town known for  its idyllic white sand beaches.

Early this year, the Da Nang local government highlighted the town as one of the Top 10 Asian Fresh Destinations, along with Mandalay (Burma), Kenting (Taiwan), Okinawa (Japan), Lombok (Indonesia), Kaohsiung (Taiwan), Kota Kinabalu (Malaysia), Osaka (Japan), Chiang Rai (Thailand), and Perth (Australia).

Rapid urbanization and a rising population is expected within the next few years and it is feared that current electricity and sewage treatment capacities will not be able to keep up.

City planners are now working on developing a low carbon initiative that can transform the town as a model of green and sustainable living. Innovative systems include powering electric motorbikes and charging facilities as well as power generation from kitchen waste.

Bike rides in Da Nang. (Photo: Supplied)

The low carbon feasibility study is funded by a multi-year project under the APEC Energy Working Group. It was developed last year in a plan that includes a set of carbon dioxide emission reduction targets and initiatives, including  renewable energy and public transit systems. APEC aims to achieve these emission targets by 2030.

The working group commissioned Japanese-owned NEWJEC Inc. to conduct the feasibility study and analysed some of the unique challenges and opportunities for Da Nang.

The new Dragon Bridge in Da Nang boosting its modern business and tourism infrastructure. (Photo: Supplied)

“Da Nang is experiencing rapid urbanization and rising tourism development. Current electricity and sewage treatment capacities have not been able to keep up,” explained Mr Toru Igarashi, Group Manager, Urban and Regional Development Group, NEWJEC Inc.

“The innovative low carbon plan offers both an efficient and environmentally-friendly way to respond to these growing infrastructure needs,” added Mr Igarashi.

Meanwhile, the Energy Smart Communities Initiative (ESCI ) also unveiled Da Nang’s LCMT model for its Ngu anh Son District.  The proposal incorporates new technologies and a policy of effective dissemination to accomplish the ambitious goal of incorporating the use of biomass energy, effective transportation systems, and energy efficient buildings to achieve model LCMT status.

Da Nang in central Vietnam (Image: Google)

Strategies include methane recovery and effective utilization of biomass energy, a low carbon-emission transportation system, introduction of technologies of energy saving and CO2 saving into buildings, and encouragement of dissemination of LCMT.

ESCI was launched in November 2010 by U.S. President Barack Obama and then Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan.  ESCI covers four main pillars—Smart Transport, Smart Buildings, Smart Grids, and Smart Jobs and Consumers—along with the cross-cutting examples of Low Carbon Model Towns.

City planner are optimistic Da Nang can leapfrog from conventional fossil fuel methods to utilize green technologies such as biogas power generation from waste. At the same time these less polluting alternatives and added amenities will also enhance Da Nang’s attractiveness as a tourism destination and contribute to increased quality of life and economic development for its residents.

APEC released the full report of the feasibility studies here.