Tibet's geothermal energy powers power plants

The Tibet Autonomous Region (China, southwest) is home to rich geothermal resources capable of supplying power stations with a total installed capacity of at least one million kw, according to a Tibetan member of the Academy of 'Engineering from China.

A preliminary investigation by Academician Dorji and his colleagues showed that the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, located on average 4 m above sea level, was a gold mine of geothermal resources.

"This goes against the traditional theory according to which these resources exist only in volcanic regions at low altitude", indicated the geologist, 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.

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To date, three geothermal power stations built in Tibet have a combined installed capacity of 28,18 megawatts, and one of them, the power station located in Yangbajing, produces more than 100 million kwh of electricity per year.

Yet experts estimate that the region's geothermal industry still has enormous potential for exploitation, as this new energy now contributes 30% to the local electricity grid.

Dorji added that fully harnessing these rich resources would help generate more electricity and improve the energy structure, the latter of which is clean, recyclable and safe 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.

Research and development of geothermal energy in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau dates back to the 1960s.


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