Survey of Energy Resources 2007
Geothermal Country Notes
With its move to a fast-growing market economy and increasing environmental concerns, the utilisation of geothermal energy in China continues to increase, albeit with private investment rather than with state funds.
Studies have identified more than 3 200 geothermal features, of which some 50 fields have been investigated and explored. High-temperature resources are mainly concentrated in southern Tibet and western parts of Yunnan and Sichuan Provinces, whereas low-medium temperature resources are widespread over the vast coastal area of the south-east, the North China Basin, Songliao Basin, Jianghan Basin, Weihe Basin, etc.
Historically, the primary development has been in geothermal energy used directly for installations as diverse as space heating, agricultural drying, fish farming, irrigation and earthquake monitoring. However, in recent times there has been much expansion of recreational installations. The term 'Hot Spring Economy' has been adopted as a result of the establishment in Beijing of the World Geothermal Natural Science Park and the Geothermal Popular Science Exhibition Centre where all aspects of geothermal energy are demonstrated.
Although recently the major developments have taken place in the localities of Beijing, Tianjin and coastal towns, a development has taken place in the area of the Daqing oil field. It was found that some of the oil and gas exploration wells could supply hot water sufficient for a 310 000 m2 district heating scheme and furnish warm water for 3 000 dwellings. In total, the country utilises geothermal energy for about 13 million m2 of space heating.
The development of geothermal power generation has been, by comparison, relatively slow, owing to the large hydro-electric resources in those provinces with high-temperature geothermal resources (Tibet and Yunnan). The largest power complex is located at Yangbajain (Tibet). China's aggregate capacity is approximately 28 MWe, generating about 100 GWh annually.
The utilisation of ground-source heat pumps forms a very small part of the overall use of geothermal heat. At end-2004 it was reported that 15 units of about 2.5 MWt were in operation.