Oil giant taps China's vast geothermal reserves

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Baoding - Chinese state-run energy giant Sinopec has drilled hundreds of wells across the country without finding a single drop of oil. But that was precisely the point: instead of black gold, the almost mile deep holes are providing clean heat for local homes.

While two-thirds of China's electricity is generated by coal, almost all of the homes in northern Hebei province's Xiong district - home to 400 000 people - are heated by wells as deep as 1 500 metres (5 000 feet).

In a new apartment in the district, a 60-year-old retiree watched his granddaughters hop about in bare feet, impervious to the frost outside.

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