Clean heating drives China's green development

(People's Daily Online) 10:20, January 08, 2024

China has made remarkable strides in realizing clean heating, which has driven its green development efforts.

Data released by the National Energy Administration shows that by the end of 2022, access to clean heating in China's northern regions had reached about 16.3 billion square meters, with the rate of clean-energy heating hitting around 76 percent.

The switch from coal to electricity for heating is an important means of clean heating. Many regions across China are actively utilizing green electricity, including wind power and photovoltaic (PV) power, for heating.

In north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, PV power has provided herdsmen with a new way of winter heating.

The World Geothermal Congress 2023, under the theme of "Clean Geothermal, Green Earth," kicks off in Beijing on Sept. 15, 2023.

The heating supply in herdsman Aotegen Bayaer's home in Uxin Banner, Ordos city, Inner Mongolia is now powered by electricity generated from a PV power station. Despite the bitter cold outside, the room temperature of the herdsman's home can exceed 20 degrees Celsius.

In the past, farmers and herdsmen without access to centralized heating relied mainly on burning coal for heating, which not only led to unstable temperatures but also air pollution. In 2022, Inner Mongolia set up a special fund for clean heating, allocating 160 million yuan ($22.6 million) annually to advance clean heating projects. Uxin Banner has actively developed local solar resources, and built a PV power station in Aotegen Bayaer's village, continuously transmitting green electricity to herdsmen's homes to allow them to enjoy clean-energy heating.

"In the past, we needed as much as 5 tonnes of coal each winter, and the room was full of dust and smoke," he said. “Now, we are spending less on PV power-enabled heating and my home has become cleaner," Aotegen Bayaer said.

A green geothermal production and operation model is on display at the World Geothermal Congress 2023. (Photo/Hu Qingming)

In Aotegen Bayaer's village alone, with 239 households shifting to electricity for heating and the electricity-enabled heating area exceeding 31,000 square meters, more than 900 tonnes of standard coal and over 2,700 tonnes of pollutants can be reduced in a winter heating season.

PV power-enabled heating also benefits villagers in Xiaosigou township, Pingquan city, north China's Hebei Province, and residents in southwest China's Xizang Autonomous Region.

In Jinan city, east China's Shandong Province, air-source heat pumps are used to replace historically dominant coal-based heating for some citizens.

By the end of 2022, Beijing's new-energy heating area had reached 106 million square meters, replacing about 800 million cubic meters of gas and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 1.7 million tonnes annually. The city will strive to increase the proportion of the new-energy heating area in its overall heating area to more than 15 percent by 2030.

Beijing is vigorously promoting the use of ground-source heat pumps (GSHP), which extract geothermal resources from the ground, as a way of new-energy heating.

Villager Dong Yonglin shows a coal-to-electricity temperature controller at his home in Minzhu village, Ganzhaomiao town, Bayan Nur city, north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region on Nov. 10, 2023. (Xinhua/Li Yunping)

Since 2019, new-energy heating in Beijing has rapidly developed. A number of demonstration projects have been built, including the GSHP heating (cooling) project at the Beijing Daxing International Airport, the GSHP heating (cooling) project in the administrative office zone of Tongzhou district, sub-center of Beijing, and the GSHP heating (cooling) project for three major buildings in the administrative office zone of the capital's sub-center.

Geothermal heating is also available in some residential areas in Beijing. Once completed, Beijing's mid-depth geothermal heating pilot demonstration project in Tongzhou district will ensure geothermal heating for government-subsidized houses covering more than 350,000 square meters, while reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 7,650 tonnes, and saving 1.98 million cubic meters of natural gas each year.

With abundant geothermal energy resources, especially shallow geothermal energy, southwest China's Guizhou Province had built over 60 shallow geothermal energy development and utilization projects by December 2023, with a combined heating (cooling) area of about 11 million square meters, according to data from the Guizhou Provincial Energy Administration.

Since November 2023, over 900 heat exchange stations of China's petrochemical giant Sinopec have been put into operation successively to provide geothermal heating. The company is capable of supporting geothermal heating for more than 95 million square meters this heating season, up 15 percent year on year. It can power the heating for 1 million households in 11 provinces and cities, including Beijing, Tianjian, Shaanxi, Hebei, Henan, Shandong and Shanxi during the same heating season, slashing about 4.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually.

Meanwhile, nuclear heating has developed rapidly in recent years in China.

The third phase of China's first heating project fueled by nuclear energy, covering multiple prefecture-level cities, was put into operation in Haiyang city, Shandong Province in November 2023. In addition to Haiyang, the project launched by the State Power Investment Corporation Limited also provides carbon-free heating for Rushan city in the province.

Photo shows the clean heating project of a school in Xiji county, Guyuan city, northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. (Xinhua/Wang Peng)

Statistics show that during this heating season, the total heating area of the project reaches 12.5 million square meters, which keeps about 400,000 people warm, and the project has provided 640,000 gigajoules (GJ) of clean heat, which is equivalent to saving 57,600 tonnes of raw coal, and cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 106,000 tonnes.

In Haiyan county, Jiaxing city, east China's Zhejiang Province, the nuclear heating project of the Qinshan Nuclear Power Station of China National Nuclear Corporation has provided centralized nuclear heating for the third heating season.

After the project is fully completed by 2025, it is expected to support nuclear heating for more than 4 million square meters in the county. When it is fully operational, it will provide 704,000 GJ of clean heat annually.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)


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