Lu Feiran reports in Shanghai Daily that Shanghai is expected to use shallow geothermal energy to heat and cool buildings in the near future. This energy apparently comes from 200 meters underground, where soil and groundwater remain at a fairly constant 25 degrees Celsius year round.
Gao Shixian, director of the Institute's Shallow Geothermal Energy Exploration Office, reveals out that "If this energy can be harnessed, it can cover 130 million square meters (1,399,308,354.17 square feet)".
With this air-exchange system, heat can be used to control indoor temperatures.
Of course, this system has a cost. The Institute estimates that it will be about 50 percent more than a traditional air conditioner. In addition, over time, it would be 30 percent cheaper to use.
Besides the cost, another issue concerns the most important point: environment. This system, indeed, has another but huge handicap: "it is, however, important to protect the geological environment if this energy is to be used long term", the newspaper says. Why? Fang Guo'an, Director of the Institute, acknowledges that "if we don't use it properly we may pollute groundwater, which could be a serious problem."
Will China explore this swallow geothermal energy to equip its new buildings? It is hard to answer. But, apparently, as Lu Feiran concludes: "Urban planning authorities said they will finish the energy plan by the end of the year. It will include a strict law on energy exploration and usage to avoid possible environmental damage, officials said", it will not be surprising.
So why this haste? As I wrote in a previous post B.A.R.C.'s Caofeidian — The Genetic City, China faces with severe pollution. It generates more carbon emissions than any other nation, according to observers. This is why China invests massively in environmentally friendly energy production: $34 billion in 2004, or more than any other nation. It is a positive decision, however…
While I agree with the emergency to somehow find solutions for best energy efficiency for our cities, why shifting from bad manners into potential future bad manners? Would not it be better off slowing down and developing long-term research for best solutions? Come on China, I know, and as I wrote this previous post B.A.R.C.'s Caofeidian — The Genetic City, that your increasing number of eco-cities raise competition not only internal but also external, not only inside the country but outside; I know you want to become the environmental world leader, or at least one of world leaders, but becoming leader requires best and long-term strategies.