Xi'an Jiaotong University geothermal district heating

March 26, 2020 | Case Study

Geothermal energy can be used for power production or heating. The International Energy Agency estimates that geothermal could supply 1,600 TWh of thermal energy by 2050, or 3.9% of projected global thermal energy demand. Geothermal heating takes one of two forms. The first uses geothermal heat pumps – sometimes referred to as GeoExchange – or earth-coupled, ground-source, or water-source heat pumps – in which the earth serves as a heat sink or source. Geothermal heat pumps do not require expensive drilling but are more expensive than air-source heat pumps and are limited to areas with suitable resources.

The second form is direct heating using much deeper geothermal resources. Direct heating projects are generally larger-scale and are usually employed in district heating or cooling systems. District heating and cooling require extensive infrastructure, meaning it is most attractive in regions of the world with growing populations and thus new infrastructure construction. In late 2019, Fengxi New City in Shaanxi Province announced a large-scale direct geothermal project.

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