China builds base to tap deep-sea energy: state media

August 27, 2010
Traffic passes below power lines in Beijing. China will build a multi-million-dollar research base in the coastal city of Qingdao, in Shandong province, as it steps up its efforts to search for energy sources and rare earths on the ocean floor, state media said.

China will build a multi-million-dollar research base on its east coast as it steps up its efforts to search for energy sources and rare earths on the ocean floor, state media said Friday.

Engineers have started to design the base, which will cost an estimated 495 million yuan (72.8 million dollars) for the initial construction, the Xinhua news agency reported.

The base in the coastal city of Qingdao in Shandong province will cover 26 hectares (64.2 acres) and serve as a support station for the deep-diving manned submersible vessel "Jiaolong", the report said.

China's ambitious programme began in 2002 as the country's appetite for energy resources expanded rapidly with its fast economic growth.

Scientists believe sea beds at a depth of 4,000-6,000 metres (13,200-19,800 feet) hold abundant deposits of rare metals and , a solidified form of natural gas bound in ice that could serve as a new energy source.

"Jiaolong" -- the name of a mythical sea dragon in Chinese -- is designed to dive to a depth of 7,000 metres and managed to reach 3,759 metres in test runs conducted in May and June, Xinhua said.

China is the fifth country in the world to have conducted a manned dive to more than 3,500 metres below the sea level, after the United States, France, Russia and Japan, it said.

The International Energy Agency recently announced that China had surpassed the United States last year to become the world's top consumer -- a dubious distinction rejected by Beijing, which called the data "unreliable".

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2 / 5 (4) Aug 27, 2010
I wish the US would follow suite to make itself energy independent. But, we cant drill here for this reason, cant drill there for that reason, no to coal, no to nuclear, can't put up windmills where they can be seen or where they kill birds. China has a reason to become energy independent. With independance, comes power (no pun intended)
3 / 5 (2) Aug 28, 2010
So there it is. Our economy is dying while the Chinese economy roars into global dominance powered by energy opportunities we lack the political will to exploit. I hope the Chinese history books our ancestors will read will have an interesting passage on our foray into carbon-phobia.
not rated yet Aug 28, 2010
Well it seems America is lagging behind thanks to the lack of innovation and pioneering spirit. For example NASA wont do many daring projects because "its not safe enough". If NASA were willing to take more gambles space would be a lot closer i am betting.
not rated yet Aug 29, 2010
I guess that merely bringing the methane hydrates up to sealevel is all that's needed to release and use the gas .. a very anti-environment gas. But contained and burned would be a pretty clean process.
Hard to imagine the mining of it at such depths ..and were large quantites allowed to surface, the danger could be considerable

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