The continued move from coal to geothermal heating for smokeless cities in China

Beijing, China with and without emissions from heating
Alexander Richter 12 Dec 2018

China continues its large scale approach to utilising geothermal energy for the heating sector to curb air pollution from coal-fired heating for smokeless cities.

China continues its work on tackling air pollution for smokeless cities in the country. More and more cities in China have now switched from coal to geothermal heating during this winter heating season.

Families are increasingly replacing coal-fired boilers with geothermal heating, e.g. in Xiongxian in China’s Hebei Province. The area is located around 130 km from Beijing and is considered one of the new areas of “national significance” established in early 2017 to facilitate the coordinated development of Beijing and the surrounding region.

The county began exploiting its rich geothermal resources, a clean and sustainable energy, in 2009. Now it provides geothermal heating to all its urban areas and is looking to expand in rural households.

“We have provided geothermal heating for about 6,000 households in Xiongxian’s 12 villages this year,” said Chen Menghui, Deputy General Manager of Sinopec Green Energy Geothermal Development Co., Ltd.

The company, established in 2006, is a joint venture between Arctic Green Energy Corporation of Iceland and Sinopec Star Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of China Petrochemical Corporation (Sinopec), China’s largest geothermal developer.

With geothermal heating, carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced by at least half and it is estimated that

“Compared with coal-fired boilers, geothermal heating can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by at least half,” Chen said. “It is estimated that we can replace over 10,000 tonnes of coal and cut emissions of more than 40,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide this year in Xiongxian.”

He added that the cost of geothermal heating is about half that of natural gas heating.

Xiongxian is one of the 10 Chinese cities where Sinopec has helped replace coal with geothermal energy, including cities in Shanxi, Shaanxi and Henan provinces.

The company now provides geothermal heating to an area of around 50 square km, and it aims to increase the area by 100 square km by 2023 and help build a total of 20 “smokeless cities” nationwide.

“Local governments are very willing to cooperate with us given the mounting pressure of environmental protection,” Chen said.

China aims to have clean energy replace 74 million tonnes of coal and generate 50 percent of winter heating in northern China by 2019, according to a plan released by Chinese government in 2017.

Rich in resources of geothermal energy, the country now has about 150 square km of geothermal energy heated areas, according to an international forum on geothermal energy held in Shanghai in November.

The areas that have access to geothermal heating or cooling are expected to reach 1,600 square km by 2020, according to a five-year plan for developing geothermal energy released by Chinese government in 2017.

Source: XinhuaNet