BEIJING -- The first China Geothermal Forum, with a focus on innovation and leadership across the sector as well as on driving the sustainable development and utilization of the energy, was recently held in Beijing. According to data released by the forum, the country is expected to develop a heating and cooling area powered by the geothermal energy of up to 500 million square meters and increase installation capacity based on geothermal power generation to 100,000 kilowatts by 2015.
Liu Qi, deputy director of the National Energy Administration of China, pointed out at the forum that the twin issues of environmental pollution and climate change are making geothermal a favorable choice as the country improves energy efficiency, adjusts the energy structure and develops clean energies. Qi said that it is an opportune time to promote the sustainable development and utilization of geothermal energy, as China is home to a variety of abundant geothermal resources that are well-distributed across the country. The growth potential of geothermal means that the technology could play an increasingly important role in reducing the existing high level of pollution and promoting an ecological consciousness.
Data shows that about one sixth of the world's geothermal resources are located in China, and it leads the world in direct-use volume, according to China Academy of Engineering research fellow Cao Yaofeng. However, the country has lagged in geothermal power development, and as a result in 2010 it ranked only 18th worldwide in terms of geothermal power installed capacity.
Over the last few years, the central government as well as several local governments have revised and issued a series of policies, regulations and technological specifications, including the Renewable Energy Law, that aim to boost healthy development. The recently released China-U.S. Joint Statement on Climate Change revealed that China expects its CO2 emissions to peak around 2030 while the country is making every effort to reach that peak as early as possible. The country also plans to increase the portion of non-fossil energies that account for the total consumption of non-renewable resources to 20 percent by 2030.
Liu Qi also revealed that the country aims to achieve an annual utilization volume of geothermal resources of up to 50 million tons of standard coal equivalent by 2020 and 100 million tons by 2030. Energy experts attending the forum said that the country has the potential to significantly develop the geothermal resources to a point where it would have a realistic bearing on the energy structure. The next step is to discuss the necessary technologies and practical issues in the development and utilization of the geothermal resources in order to achieve the best results.
Lead image: Geothermal plant via Shutterstock