Shanghai skyline in the evening sun

A stairway to blue sky in Huainan

Find out how a Chinese Megacity reduced CO₂ emissions by more than 5 megatons per year – with help from T-Systems.

For more than 2,000 years, Huainan, 500 km west of Shanghai, was a small town dominated by local agriculture. With the discovery of rich coal deposits at the beginning of the last century, the subsequent establishment of chemical and petrochemical plants, heavy industry and energy supply facilities, this changed dramatically. From a few tens of thousands, the city’s population has risen to more than 1.2 million today. As in the mid-1950s, the former granary of Anhui Province was transformed into a mining center, and today, with its five universities, it is a regional center for education, research, and culture. This is the speed at which change has taken place in China over the past three decades.

Course correction

Skyline of a city with busy highways

Turbo-development has also been accompanied by explosive urbanization, a rapid increase in traffic and a significant drop in air quality. It is true that Huainan also has to do its part to ensure that China meets its global CO2 targets - the country wants to become CO2-neutral by 2060. And even by Chinese standards, the city is a veritable boom town. But there are far more than 100 megacities in the Cathay. As a so-called third-tier city, Huainan had no chance to apply to Beijing for a new transportation system. Instead, the municipal government itself developed a master plan to build an intelligent transportation system and based it on four pillars: increasing the operational efficiency of urban transportation, reducing congestion and accidents, improving public transportation, and promoting low-carbon transportation with a reduction in pollution. 

The Anhui provincial government provided the city with a contact to the German Aerospace Center (DLR), which set up a three-year pilot project together with T-Systems. The core of the joint project was the installation of an intelligent traffic infrastructure with the aim of dynamic traffic management, the dedicated reduction of emissions and fuel consumption and the sensitization of road users for an environmentally compatible driving style. 

The latter addresses, among others, the drivers of the city's more than 3,000 buses as well as Huainan's overflowing cab traffic. Estimates say Huainan has more cabs today than it had inhabitants 100 years ago. A key function of the service, and thus virtually the core of the implementation, is a solution from T-Systems - Low Carbon Mobility Management (LCMM). An algorithm in the application makes the driving behavior of people behind the wheel in road traffic measurable and permanently calculates fuel consumption and carbon emissions based, for the first time ever, on the ISO/DIS-23795 standard. 

The T-Systems solution

Diagram of system functions

In fact, the T-Systems solution measures acceleration and braking of the vehicles via GPS modules of the buses and via an app installed in the smartphones of the cab drivers, creating speed profiles and giving drivers immediate feedback on their driving style (see graphic).

The outcome

Ralf Willenbrock, a physics and mathematics graduate and T-Systems' expert for transport logistics and connected mobility, said: “Drivers, logistics service providers and transport managers benefited from our solution in a wide range of application areas virtually from day one.” For example, drivers were able to receive direct feedback on their driving behavior via the LCMM app – including tips on how to reduce their carbon footprint. Additionally, the information on driver behavior could also be used in training sessions for drivers. 

Fuel savings also reduced operating costs for logistics providers, improving profitability. Lower emissions helped reduce carbon debt.

For transportation managers, this meant more visibility and control over traffic. For example, they were able to reroute heavy truck traffic to other routes so that bus traffic could flow smoothly. At the same time, public transport could now be planned in a targeted manner. 

Alexander Sohr, team leader at the DLR Institute of Transportation Systems Technology in Berlin, says of the project: “Thanks to T-Systems' low-carbon mobility management solution, we were able to reduce fuel consumption and CO₂ emissions for cabs by ten percent as part of a joint project. In 2020, we also rolled out Low Carbon Mobility Management in buses in the Chinese city of Huainan. The savings potential is more than 5 megatons of CO₂ emissions per year.”

The bottom line is that fewer pollutant emissions led to improved air quality and thus a higher quality of life in the city, as well as sustainable environmental protection efforts; a stairway to achieving the objectives of China's Blue Sky policy.

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