China will actively expand the use of geothermal energy in a bid to adopt cleaner sources of power for heating. The country will also increase the scale of wind and solar power projects, while also safely advancing nuclear power plant construction, Vice Premier Zhang Guoqing said during a conference held in Beijing on September 15.
1. Geothermal heat
During the conference entitled “Clean Geothermal Green Earth”, Ma Yongsheng, the chairman of state-owned refiner Sinopec, said the company plans to add 75 million square meters of geothermal heating area in order to reach a target of 160 million square meters by the end of 2025. The company already has geothermal capacity of over 85 million square meters after 11 years of development, added Ma.
Geothermal energy provides clean heat through a process that utilizes the Earth’s natural heat reservoirs, typically found beneath the Earth’s surface. China has been using geothermal energy primarily for direct heating purposes, particularly in northern regions where heating demands are high. Geothermal district heating systems have been developed in cities like Beijing, Xian, and others. The Eastern superpower has substantial geothermal energy potential, with estimated reserves in various regions across the country.
The 7th #WGC2023, hosted by Sinopec under the theme of “Clean Geothermal, Green Earth,” kicks off at China National Convention Center in Beijing. It is China’s first time hosting the international geothermal event of this kind.— Sinopec (@SinopecNews) September 15, 2023
More details: https://t.co/78xfcNllLH pic.twitter.com/6K6oeK7N6y
2. Air quality
The adoption of geothermal energy can play a role in achieving China’s climate goals. According to Zhang Jianhua, Director of the National Energy Administration of China, clean power sources in northern China, including geothermal, have contributed to improving air quality by reducing the country’s reliance on coal and other fossil fuels for heating and electricity generation.
By replacing coal-fired heating and power plants with geothermal systems, China can significantly reduce its emissions of harmful pollutants, including particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and carbon dioxide (CO2).
For decades, China has faced severe air quality issues, especially in urban areas, characterized by high levels of smog and poor air quality. Transitioning to geothermal heating systems in cities can contribute to cleaner air by reducing the emissions of pollutants that contribute to smog formation.
Naturally, the extent of air quality improvement from geothermal energy adoption in China will depend on the scale of deployment and the rate at which it replaces traditional coal-based heating and energy systems.
Recognising the importance of geothermal energy in its efforts to transition to cleaner and more sustainable energy sources, China’s National Energy Administration has proposed increasing the geothermal heating-cooling area by 50% in the five years from 2020 as well as doubling the geothermal power generation capacity.