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Iceland Helps China Implement Geothermal Energy

Approximately 2.2 million Chinese residents now heat their homes with geothermal energy owing to a collaboration between Iceland and China, RÚV reports. The partnership has led to a steady increase in the use of geothermal energy in the country.

A long and colourful history

In an interview with RÚV, Páll Valdimarsson, senior advisor with Arctic Green Energy, explained that China’s use of geothermal energy has a long and colourful history. It began when a joint venture company between Iceland and China started developing geothermal space heating stations in Xanyang in 2003.

Later, the project saw two school buildings in the area connected to hot-water boreholes. A partnership, owned by Enex and Sinopec (a Chinese oil and gas enterprise based in Beijing), was established around the project, but the company suffered losses during the financial crisis in 2008. Icelandic investors subsequently came on board, eventually renaming the company Arctic Green Energy.

Currently, the geothermal district heating system in China is five to six times larger than Reykjavík Energy, according to Páll Valdimarsson. It provides approximately 2.2 million Chinese residents with heat for their homes and will reduce carbon emissions by 3.5 million tonnes.

Complete carbon neutrality by 2060

“It’s gotten quite big,” Páll observed, “and I mean China’s a populated place; these things become quite big. Today, Arctic Green provides heat for a total of 60 million square meters, and within these 60 million square meters, there are 2.2 million residents.”

Arctic Green has established a relatively simple district-heating network in China: “We’ve developed a technique that utilizes underfloor heating and simple solutions, which means that Chinese homes only require water that is between 52-55°C. That’s a much lower temperature than we use in Iceland.”

By these means, Arctic Green can use comparatively lower amounts of geothermal energy to good use. According to Páll, the Chinese have been developing technique mentioned above with continued success. He expects the projects to grow even larger in the future. “They’re aiming for complete carbon neutrality in China by 2060. They mean it – and they will accomplish it.”

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