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Sustainable success

By Alexis Hooi | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-06-29 09:24
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Major geothermal renewable energy partnership between China and Iceland lauded as natural extension of CPC's focus in putting people first, Scandinavian environmental expert and former diplomat tells Alexis Hooi.

When Icelandic scholar and diplomat Ragnar Baldursson first arrived in China in the 1970s, it felt like his own country a century earlier.

"In the winter, there was coal smoke over the city. It was like Iceland 100 years ago, in that sense. All the peasants in the surrounding areas and a large part of Beijing were being heated with coal. So even though there were no cars on the streets, there was a lot of pollution," he says.

But four decades later, China has become a leader in tapping renewable energy, with Ragnar (Icelanders address everyone by their first names) himself part of a pioneering partnership on geothermal heating that brings the two countries together on the path to sustainable development.

"It has been extremely successful," says the 65-year-old.

"In Iceland, the houses are heated with renewable energy, almost all of them with geothermal resources. But our contribution to combating climate change is actually more in China than in Iceland because our population is small."

The environmental seeds of success were planted in 2006. That was when Iceland-based professional geothermal company Arctic Green Energy Corp's subsidiary co-established with a counterpart at Chinese oil and gas giant Sinopec Group the heating joint venture, Sinopec Green Energy Geothermal Development Co Ltd.

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