China to expand geothermal energy usage: VP

The nation is set to increase its geothermal heating area by 75 million square meters by end of 2025.
Loukia Papadopoulos
A geothermal power station Yangbajain, China.jpg
A geothermal power station Yangbajain, China.


Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Guoqing announced at a conference on Friday that the nation will vigorously increase the use of geothermal energy in order to meet its ambitious targets for clean energy generation.

This is according to a report by Reuters.

Direct heating and bathing

A renewable and sustainable source of energy, geothermal power is created from the heat held beneath the earth's surface. The primary sources of this power are the primordial heat retained during the planet's formation and the radioactive isotopes' natural decay in the earth's core. Geothermal energy has been used for many things, including the production of electricity as well as heating and cooling systems.

Geothermal power plants can be classified as either dry steam, flash steam, or binary cycle. Typically, these plants are found in settings with abundant geothermal resources, such as volcanic sites.

The majority of China's geothermal resources are located in the country's western and southwestern areas, which have active geological processes. The geothermal potential of provinces like Yunnan, Tibet, Sichuan, and Shaanxi is well-known around the world. Hot springs, geysers, and other visible indiications of geothermal activity can be found in these regions.

Geothermal energy has long been used in the nation for direct heating and bathing. In addition, geothermal water is used in many towns and cities for agricultural greenhouse heating, contributing to a thriving nutritional ecosystem.

In the past few years, China has made further investments in the production of geothermal energy. A number of geothermal power stations are now in service, and more are being built. These power stations primarily produce energy from lower-temperature geothermal resources using binary cycle technology.

Despite the technology’s high potential and the nation’s focus on developing the sector, geothermal energy in China still faces issues, including the need for more advanced exploration and drilling technologies to optimize the implementation of the power source.

These hurdles may soon be overcome. Reuters reported that in order to attain a goal of 1,722 million square feet (160 million square meters) by the end of 2025, chemical and petroleum corporation Sinopec has ambitious plans to increase its geothermal heating area by 807 million square feet (75 million square meters). This is according to the chairman of Sinopec Ma Yongsheng who spoke at the same conference as the nation's VP.

Subsurface disturbances and land use

It should be noted that although geothermal energy is relatively clean, it nevertheless has an impact on the environment. Subsurface ecosystem disturbances and land use are two challenges that arise with the introduction of this technology. These effects, however, are not as severe as those brought on by the extraction and burning of fossil fuels.

Geothermal energy is likely to continue playing an important part in the China’s energy mix given the country's commitment to renewable energy and its initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These efforts will also be complemented by investments in nuclear power plants and wind and solar energy projects, reported Reuters.

A report by RIM published at the beginning of this month found that China, along with European nations, was leading the deployment of renewables. 

Over 20 nations throughout the world use geothermal energy, with the United States, the Philippines, Indonesia and Iceland having the biggest capacity for electricity production from the power source.

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