Chinese city of Xiongxian in Hebei province deriving all heating from geothermal

Xiongxian geothermal heating installation, Hebei Province, China (source: Sinopec via Ciaxin/ Twitter)
Alexander Richter 6 Apr 2017

The city of Xiongxian in Hebei Province in China is making headlines as the city deriving all its heating from geothermal energy. With that the city of 390,000 residents, effectively cleans up its air and could become a role model for more to come.

The city of Xiongxian in Hebei province is making headlines in China today. The city is one of three counties in the province that will form a new special economic zone planned for major development aimed at taking pressure of nearby Beijing.

With only about 390,000 residents, the city is unique in the country as it derives all heating from geothermal energy unlike Beijing and other cities in the country that mostly rely on coal for most of the heating during the winter time.

Coal fired heating is the major contributing factor to the polluted air plaguing Beijing and other cities in the North of China. With its new Five-Year Plan through 2020, the Chinese government is making environmental protection a top priority. In the new Xiongan economic zone, geothermal energy could play a bigger role.

“Clean energy needs to be applied in smoggy areas as soon as possible, and northern China — where geothermal energy is abundant and easy to exploit — is such a case,” said Pang Zhonghe, director of the Institute of Geology and Geophysics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Xiongxian is currently one of the few places in China where 100% of home heating comes from geothermal power. However, that area might be extended to the neighboring counties of Rongcheng and Anxin, which will form the new Xiongan zone, as reported by the official Xinhua News Agency on Saturday.

The area’s proximity to overcrowded Beijing, combined with other advantages like its geothermal resources, are leading some to predict it could be set for a rise like ones that transformed the southern city of Shenzhen and Shanghai’s Pudong district from backwaters to economic powerhouses in just a couple of decades.

Clean energy is a clear priority for the zone, with President Xi Jinping saying the area should first be a green and ecological area, according to Xinhua. That could point to further development of Xiongxian’s geothermal technology, providing a model of creative strategies for cleaning up the nation’s polluted air.

Xiongan’s transformation to a clean-heating hub is the result of a 20-year effort by state-run petrochemical giant China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., or Sinopec.

“Compared with solar and wind power, geothermal energy hasn’t been developed on a large scale because of the lack of government support, especially because there haven’t been any national subsidies,” said Wang Yanxin, deputy chief geologist of the new-energy institute of Sinopec’s Star Petroleum Ltd. subsidiary.

After Xiongan’s designation as a new special economic zone, Sinopec has determined it may not only extend the thermal heating system to the zone’s other two counties, but also try to establish 20 other coal-free towns by 2020.

Earlier the resource also got a boost when the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China’s economic planner, mentioned guidelines for geothermal energy for the first time in its latest Five-Year Plan. That means the sector could eventually get state subsidies and triple the current volume of geothermal heating systems.

Source: CaiXing global