Chinese-Belgian cooperation to push research on geothermal energy

Xiongan new industrial zone, China (source: flickr/ GIZ-SGUP, creative commons)
Alexander Richter Alexander Richter 29 Oct 2018

China and Belgium are looking at further cooperation on renewable energy, with a specific interest by Belgian research organisation VITO on geothermal energy and its utilisation, e.g. in Xiongan, China.

A recent China-Belgium Green Energy Day by the Embassy of Belgium in Beijing, China,  pointed to the China-EU efforts on boosting the transition toward clean energy. With further cooperation and research, there is hope that renewable energy will become competitive with fossil fuels in the near future. Geothermal energy has thereby been a key topic, that despite great potential in China has so far been largely untapped.

Chinese publication Global Times reporter Zhou Zheng (GT) interviewed Dirk Fransaer (Fransaer), managing director of VITO, a European independent research and technology organization focusing on sustainable energy and environmental protection technologies, to discuss the possibilities for geothermal energy in China, as part of the Green Energy Day in Bejing.

GT: China is determined to tackle pollution and is switching from coal to natural gas. Among all the green energy options, what advantages do you see in geothermal energy? What is the potential for it to be further developed in China?

Fransaer: Geothermal energy is greener. When you burn gas, it also produces CO2, but geothermal energy is CO2-free. With geothermal energy, you can generate both heat and electricity. And the cost of using it to generate heat is less than for gas.

So you have all the economic and ecological benefits. Another advantage is that it is extremely stable, compared with other forms of green energy such as wind and solar power, which depend more on the weather conditions.

But you need to use geothermal energy where you have a cluster of people living. So typically, urban areas would be a good place. In Beijing, for instance, there is a central heating system. You have all the heat networks already in place, fired simply from a coal plant, although now there is a transition to gas instead. To switch to geothermal energy, the only thing you need to do is drill some holes in the ground and there you go. So in China, it would be easy and cheap to use this form of energy.

It is also important for countries to be less reliant on imported energy.

GT: What is the current situation in terms of cooperation on geothermal energy between China and European countries?

Fransaer: China and Europe both want to tackle climate change and adopt clean energy. In the EU, there are countries like Iceland that have formed joint ventures with Chinese companies to develop geothermal energy to supply heat. Some demonstration projects have been built in Xi’an, Northwest China’s Shaanxi Province and in the county of Xiongxian, which is part of Xiongan New Area. The Chinese government and governments in European countries have paid a lot of attention to it, but the cooperation on geothermal energy is still in the early stages.

The interview further discusses current cooperation on geothermal research between China and European countries, the interest of Belgian company VITO on joining a geothermal pilot project in Ziongan, and overall how Chinese-Belgian cooperation on research has so far worked out.


For the full interview see link below.

Source: Global Times