By a fellow initiate in Mainland China (Originally in Chinese)
China has a large agricultural population, and many farmers chop trees and cut grass to cook food and to warm their houses. It has wasted labor and caused more and more damage to the environment. In this case, development of renewable energy sources, such as methane, solar energy, and miniature hydroelectric power*, etc., not only improves farmers’ lifestyle but also reduces the depletion of vegetation for energy.
Since year 2000, the Agricultural Ministry of China has organized and carried out the Sustainable Development in Rural Areas through Promotion of Integrated Biogas Technologies under the theme of protecting ecology and environment and with the goal of increasing farmers’ income. Closely linking agricultural production and farmers’ lives, the project has been carried out at full scale in more than 1,000 counties in the country. The construction work under the project has been based on family as the basic unit, guiding farmers to change their out-of-date crops production and lifestyle and to effectively utilize land, solar energy and biological resources. The most important part of the project is rural methane power generation.
Rural methane power saves energy and promotes environmental protection. It is therefore called an Energy Revolution in rural areas. After structural improvements on toilets and animal sheds have been completed, human and animal wastes, rice straw, and daily trash become the raw material to generate methane. The methane range and stove cooks food easily and does not emit smoke and dust, and is therefore not harmful to health. Methane not only can be used as fuel to cook food, but also to power lighting and heat water for showers. The solid and liquid remains of methane can be used as organic fertilizer, which helps to prevent plant disease and pests, so as to increase crops production and to reduce the expense of pesticide and fertilizer. Consequently, farmers’ living environment and hygiene have been greatly improved; the reduction of burning straw stalk and coal has reduced pollution to the environment and also protected trees. Therefore, the methane project has brought significant benefits to the ecology, society and economy of the rural areas.
Meanwhile, methane power generation has been extended into cities. Currently, the city of Beijing has been successful to collect methane at the Asuwei Landfill in Changping District for power generation. This is the first case of utilizing city landfill trash to produce methane for electrical power in northern China. As such, the project has solved the issue of the bad odor of landfill and the issue of safety concern of methane emission. It has also improved the environment for the nearby inhabitants and at the same time provided electrical power to generate electricity for seventeen thousand families for one year in Beijing.
* Miniature hydroelectric power uses flowing water in a stream close to a village in a hilly or mountainous area to generate electricity, and is usually less than 10 KW. The power generated is directly supplied to the villagers without voltage transmission.