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Geothermal Energy To Become Next New Source of Chinese Renewable Growth

The National Energy Administration of China is developing its 13th five-year plan (2016-2020) for the development and use of geothermal resources, in a move to further boost the development of the sector, according to China Securities Journal.

Industry analysts said that the plan is another important step towards nationwide utilization of geothermal resources following the release of guidelines on promoting the development and use of geothermal energy. The plan is an indicator that geothermal energy is being promoted as the next new growth source across China's renewable energy sector following wind and solar.

According to the plan, annual geothermal utilization should reach 50 million tons of standard coal equivalent by the end of 2020, by which time an integrated technological and industrial system for the development and use of geothermal resources will be put in place across the country. Officials also plant to construct an operational model for the development and use of geothermal resources most suited for each region.

According to the Chinese energy regulator’s geothermal energy guidelines released in February of 2013, a national geothermal energy data and information system will be established by the end of 2015, with hopes that a nationwide geothermal heating program will cover an area of 500 million square meters while installed geothermal capacity will be expanded to 100 MW. As of the end of 2013, China’s aggregate installed capacity of geothermal power generation projects was a mere 27 MW with all projects located in Tibet, including the 25-MW Yangbajin geothermal power station.

Wang Guiling, secretary-general of Geothermal Resources Survey Center, China Geological Survey, said that the plan, which will also include a government subsidy plan, is on track to be issued next year. 

A number of Chinese companies, including Shanghai Hanbell Precise Machinery, Zhejiang Kaishan Compressor, Yantai Moon and Dalian Refrigeration, have jumped into the geothermal equipment market as the future for the market holds great promise thanks to the support from the central government, according to a securities researcher. 

The development and use of geothermal energy as a renewable clean energy is of great significance to the easing of the energy shortage as well as for environmental protection. As a country with substantial geothermal resources, China has 853 billion tons and 256 billion tons of standard coal equivalent in geothermal reserves and geothermal resources available for development, respectively, most of which are located in the eastern and southwestern parts of the country.

“Today, many countries and regions with no or few geothermal resources are actively using geothermal heat pumps, a technology which have experienced a rapid development over the past few years, to exploit geothermal resources,” said Wang Jiyang, a researcher at the Institute of Geology and Geophysics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences. “Geothermal energy has great growth potential as it is limitless and available in almost every corner of the globe.”

Lead image: Geothermal compass via Shutterstock

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