The Tibet Autonomous Region (China, southwest) is home to rich geothermal resources capable of powering power plants with a total installed power of at least one million kw, according to a Tibetan member of the Academy of the 'Engineering from China.
A preliminary investigation by academician Dorji and his colleagues showed that the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, located on average at 4 m above sea level, was a gold mine of geothermal resources.
"This goes against the traditional theory that these resources exist only in low-lying volcanic regions," said the geologist, the first Tibetan academician.
Tibet abounds in geothermal resources representing 80% of the country's total. Still incomplete statistics show that the region has 700 geothermal areas, of which 342 are exploitable and contain energy equivalent to 31,53 billion tons of coal.
Geothermal fields were discovered along the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, the world's tallest railway under construction. Their operation will contribute to the economic development of areas along the railway line, said Dorji.
To date, three geothermal power plants built in Tibet have a combined installed capacity of 28,18 megawatt, and one of them, the plant located in Yangbajing produces more than 100 million kwh of electricity per year.
However, experts estimate that the geothermal industry in the region still has enormous exploitation potential, given that this new energy now contributes 30% to the local electricity network.
Dorji added that fully exploiting these rich resources would help generate more electricity and improve the energy structure, which is clean, recyclable and secure energy.
"It will provide electricity and heating to the Qinghai-Tibet Railway and can be used in tourism as well as in medical care and fish farming," he noted.
The research and development of geothermal energy on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau dates from the 1960s.