China hosts World Geothermal Congress 2023

Geothermal energy is a clean and renewable energy source. China holds approximately one-sixth of the world's geothermal reserves.

Photo from CFP

Photo from CFP

By WANG Yong


The World Geothermal Congress 2023 opened in Beijing on September 15, the first time China has hosted the event.

Geothermal energy is a clean and renewable energy source, and China is rich in geothermal resources. According to Sinopec, China's geothermal resource reserves account for approximately one-sixth of the world's with enormous potential for development and utilization.

The three-day congress and exhibition highlight that under the demand for clean heating, including hot spring bathing, ground source heat pumps, and geothermal heating. The most common use of geothermal energy worldwide is still for building heating and cooling, accounting for about 79 percent.

In 2021, China's geothermal heating capacity reached 1.3 billion square meters. Hydrothermal heating amounts to 530 million square meters, while shallow geothermal heating provides 800 million square meters.

Sinopec's ZOU Caineng, the chief energy expert at Sinopec, said that the goals of peak carbon emissions and carbon neutrality are inevitable and the geothermal industry is a necessary choice with inherent advantages over oil and gas.

Currently, Sinopec is the largest geothermal enterprise in China, with a heating capacity exceeding 80 million square meters through projects in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, Shandong, Henan, Shanxi, and Inner Mongolia.

Zou said that Sinopec has obvious advantages specifically oil and gas mining rights. Sinopec's geothermal engineering technology is at the forefront domestically and internationally.

Capacity is expected to reach 100 million square meters by the end of this year.

More than 50 countries are working on geothermal energy, 31 of them operating geothermal power plants including Indonesia, the Philippines, and Turkey. Global installed has increased from 2,000 megawatts in 1980 to the current 16,00 megawatts today.

The United States has the largest total installed capacity with 3,700 megawatts. China is still a relatively small player. Geothermal power does not receive the same price subsidies as wind and solar power generation. As of the end of 2021, China's operational geothermal power generation capacity was only about 16 megawatts.

Iceland is the most advanced country in the world in terms of geothermal heating. In the 1990s, the capital city Reykjavik achieved 100% geothermal heating, making it the world's first smoke-free city.

As for China, clean geothermal heating in northern China and on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau will continue to be focal points of development.