Yangbajain Valley

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Yangbajain (also spelled Yangbajing) is a town approximately 87 kilometers (54 miles) north-west of Lhasa, halfway to Damxung in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. The town lies just south of the Nyainqentanglha Mountains, in an upland lush green valley surrounded by the tents of nomads with grazing yak and sheep populating the hillside. It is the site Yangpachen Monastery, which was historically the seat of the Shamarpas of Karma Kagy¨¹ and the Yangbajing International Cosmic Ray Observatory.

Yangbajain Hot Spring

Yangbajain Hot Spring

The area is famous for the Yangbajain hot springs, which have been harnessed to produce much of the electricity for the capital Lhasa. There is a thermoelectric power plant on the edge of the Yangbajain hot springs field covering 20-30 square kilometers.The thermoelectric power plant was established in 1977, and the first development of geothermal power not only in Tibet but in the whole of China.

The Yangbajain hot springs field is at an altitude of 4290-4500 m which makes it the highest altitude set of hot springs in China, and possibly the world. The water emerges at 30 degrees C-86 degrees F, which is above the boiling point at that altitude.

The Yangbajain Geothermal Power Station

The Yangbajain Geothermal Power Station in Tibet, the largest of its kind in China, has generated 2.4 billion kwh of electricity to date, according to a senior local official. Tibet ranks first in China in geothermal reserves with 700 geothermal spots, said Dorje, director of the Tibet Autonomous Regional Bureau of Geology and Mineral Exploration and Development.

The Yangbajain Geothermal Power Station in Tibet

The Yangbajain Geothermal Power Station in Tibet

Located at Yangbajain Township, Damxung County, the 30-year-old station currently has a total installed capacity of 25,000 kw with the first 1,000-kw generating set becoming operational in 1977. The station now mainly develops the geothermal energy beneath the shallow earth surface and thus has a great development potential with large reserves of quality geothermal energy 1,400 m beneath the earth surface.

Dorje said that the geothermal energy deep underground can allow a total installed capacity of at least 30,000 kw. However, the station has also had some problems after many years of operation, such as scale formation, corrosion and low thermal efficiency. Technological innovations are thus necessary in the use of geothermal resources, Dorje said.

Yangbajing International Cosmic Ray Observatory

The YBJ International Cosmic Ray Observatory is located in the Yangbajing valley of the Tibetan highland, a site chosen for its high altitude at 4300 meters above sea level.Collaborating institutes includes the INFN (Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare) and various Chinese and Japanese universities.