So it’s been a while since I translated anything for this blog. 新京报/The Beijing News has a good reason to start translating again on their newly, nicely redesigned site: Beijing is going to subsidise geothermal heating:


Government to subsidise use of geothermal energy for heating

Ugh… That was an ugly mangling of the headline. Nevermind…


Beijing’s underground thermal energy could heat up to 1 billion square metres, reaching 2020’s planned target.

And it just gets uglier…. I’m way out of practice, aren’t I?

Anyways, Jiang Yanxin reports:


The government will provide subsidies of 30 to 50 yuan per square metre to developers in communities that adopt geothermal heating. A report released yesterday by the Beijing Municipal Geological Prospecting Bureau revealed that the heat energy contained in the shallow strata beneath Beijing’s plain area could supply heat to 959 million square metres, a huge potential. It is reported that this kind of large-scale resource appraisal is a world first.


Thermal energy reaches 2020’s heating target.


Yesterday the municipal Geological Prospecting Bureau released its report Geological Prospecting Report on Shallow Strata Thermal Energy Resources in Beijing’s Plains Area, completed over three years.


The report revealed that the thermal energy contained in the shallow strata from 3 metres to 150 metres below Beijing’s plains area amounts to 66.2 million tons of standard coal per year. In winter the equivalent of 15.3 million tons of standard coal could be used, supplying heat to an area of 959 million square metres.  This comes very close to the goal of Beijing Municipality’s overall plan to supply heat to a total area of 1 billion square metres by 2020.

Alright, I’m going to omit a definition that, even if it were rendered into good English by a competent translator (i.e. not me), would still give me a migraine. But to make it worse, puzzling out that long, complicated sentence makes it seem like the definition is so blindingly obvious it would only be necessary in a text for primary school kids. And besides, the word ‘troposphere‘ makes me think of a large ball whose inhabitants are all a bit nutty (hey, wait, that’s a pretty good description of Earth), and yet I can’t figure out why the lowest portion of the Earth’s atmosphere would be mentioned in a definition of the geothermal resources in question- last I checked, all of the Earth’s crust sits below the all of its atmosphere, except when things like volcanic eruptions and meteorite strikes send small parts of it flying.

Anyway, continuing:


The person responsible at the municipal Geological Prospecting Bureau said that using shallow strata geothermal energy is about 10 yuan cheaper than using regular gas as it is renewable, making it both environmentally friendly and energy saving.

Alright, skipping over a restatement of the 30 to 50 yuan/m2 subsidies offered to developers to encourage them to use geothermal heating, and actually, just picking the one or two interesting bits left in the article:


Currently Beijing has 13 million square metres of construction using shallow strata geothermal heating and cooling.

Yeah, cooling too. I have only the vaguest idea of the physics, but I have heard before that in the summer you can throw the whole thing in reverse and pump the heat back underground.


In addition, considering the possible influences of resource exploitation on the environment, the municipal Geological Prospecting Bureau has already built two monitoring stations and over 20 collecting points to monitor the influence of exploitation. Once geothermal energy is used on a large scale, Beijing will consider establishing 20 monitoring stations and over 1000 collecting points to carry out monitoring and ensure safe exploitation.

Alright, so I’m building up a good track record of thoroughly mangled translations here…. Anyway, it’s cool to see that Beijing has such awesome potential for geothermal heating of the city’s buildings, that the government is encouraging it’s use, and that the relevant authorities will monitor the effects of its use on the environment. Cleaner heating can only be a good thing.

2 Responses to “subsidies for geothermal heat”

  1. Richard Says:

    Will be interesting to see if the potential of the scheme really is as big as stated in the article.

    Yes, heat pumps work both ways – heating AND cooling depending on the season. I understand it works on basic convection, so the additional energy required is not enormous.

    The French government is providing subsidies and tax credits at the moment for property owners to retrofit solar panels, heat pumps and solar water heaters to their homes/buildings. It’s turning into a significant industry and plumbers and electricians are having to get new certifications in order to deal with the new demand. Sounds like the Beijing project has a similar ambition… and I read somewhere recently that the Chinese govt is going big-time into wind farms too.

  2. wangbo Says:

    Yep, in fact I saw a convoy of trucks carrying wind turbine blades in a northwesterly direction two days ago. I assume that they’re for the Guanting wind farm, which is in the next county over from where I am right now. Then I saw a billboard advertising a wind power company. All good signs.

    There’s also a lot more solar energy being used here, but mostly water heaters. Most PV cells I see are small ones sitting on top of street lamps and train signals. China makes a lot of PV cells, but mostly for export. I’ve heard of PV set ups being used to bring electricity to remote villages out west that are off the regular grid, but it seems to me that there’s a lot more potential going undeveloped. (and actually, I’d say the same about New Zealand)