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Biogas fuels rural China's new energy drive

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09:03, August 30, 2011

DAPING, Gansu Province, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) -- In Gansu, one of China's poorest provinces, the residents of Daping Village all have two things in their backyards: biogas digesters and solar cookers.

In this barren and remote northwestern town, no energy sources could be more efficient or economical in meeting residents' daily cooking and heating needs than biogas and solar power.

"I used to burn firewood to cook. The smoke choked me to tears. After switching to biogas, the air is much cleaner, and I do not have to live with smelly animal waste," said 55-year-old villager Li Hongmei, who can now dispose of animal waste in the biogas digester.

In Li's backyard, a 15-cubic-meter biogas digester in the ground remains invisible unless a heavy stone cover is removed. A 20-meter plastic tube connects the biogas tank to a stove in her kitchen.

The local government offered her family 1,400 yuan (218.75 U.S. dollars) two years ago to fund her biogas set-up. Li spent the money on buying cement and sand and hiring construction workers.

For the past five years, the local government has provided residents with nearly 10 million yuan a year to construct these clean energy-yielding facilities.

According to data released by the Pew Charitable Trusts in April, China extended its global lead in renewable energy investment and financing by spending a record 54.4 billion U.S. dollars last year.

In the past five years, the central government alone invested 21.2 billion yuan in promoting and developing the use of biogas in rural areas, according to data from the Ministry of Finance.

Figures from the Ministry of Agriculture showed that by the end of last year, 40 million households in China, or about one-third of the nation's rural population with access to methane, used biogas, benefiting 155 million people.

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