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April 25, 2012

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Full-scale geothermal use planned for city buildings

SHANGHAI will use shallow geothermal energy to heat and cool buildings covering a total of 4 million square meters by 2015 across the city, the city's urban planning authority said yesterday.

By using the geothermal energy in every square kilometer, the city can save 28,000 tons of coal, cutting the emission of 245,000 tons carbon dioxide and 2,000 tons of sulfur dioxide every year, the Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Planning and Land Resources said.

Trial operations of the facilities have begun in buildings in the Pudong New Area and Yangpu, Qingpu, Songjiang, Jiading, Minhang and Fengxian districts, and will be expanded to across the city soon, the bureau announced yesterday.

The energy comes from 200 meters underground, where the soil and groundwater remain at a fairly constant 25 degrees Celsius year round. Therefore, once a building is equipped with an air-exchange system, the heat can be used to control indoor temperatures.

"Some 1.3 billion people would not need heaters or air conditioners if all the resources of the energy could be used," said Gao Shixian, director of the shallow geothermal energy exploration office of the Shanghai Institute of Geological Engineering Exploration.

Although installing an air-exchange system costs about 50 percent more than an air conditioner, over time the system would be 30 percent cheaper to use, the institute said.

But experts also reminded that strict measures must be taken to protect the geological environment while using the energy, as the groundwater might be polluted if people failed to use the energy properly.

The urban planning bureau said it will formulate a strict law on energy usage to avoid possible environmental damage.


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