China Nears Publication of Plan to Guide Geothermal Developments

China could be nearing publication of a plan to guide the development of geothermal energy resources over the next few years as it plunges ahead with efforts to get more of its energy from renewable sources.

The plan will cover the years 2016 to 2020 and could be ready as soon as July, according to Liu Jinxia, head of the geothermal research institute at Sinopec Star Petroleum, which acts as a government think tank and is authorized to research geothermal energy.

The National Energy Administration and the Ministry of Land and Resources are currently reviewing the geothermal development plans from dozens of local governments.

A detailed plan would map out China’s geothermal resources and outline how companies and governments could commercialize the energy source, Liu said.

“A finalized plan may be finished in July and August before it’s written into the latest five-year plan under the chapter of sustainable energy,” Liu said by phone today.

China has one-sixth of the world’s geothermal resources, according to Sinopec Star Petroleum. Even so, the country had just 28 megawatts of geothermal generating capacity at the end of 2014, or 20 times less than neighboring Japan, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance data.

The government’s current plan is for geothermal energy by 2020 to replace 50 million metric tons of coal a year and account for about 1.3 percent of China’s energy mix, according to Liu.

Geothermal uses heat from the earth to generate energy. The technology was pioneered by Iceland.

Copyright 2014 Bloomberg

Lead image: Geothermal plant via Shutterstock

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