WASHINGTON, March 13, 2015— About 96,100 rural households in China’s Hebei Province will gain access to clean, easy-to-use biogas for cooking, with help from a $71.5 million loan approved by the World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors today.
The Hebei Rural Renewable Energy Development Project, to be implemented from 2015 to 2020, will invest in the installation and operation of six biogas facilities, which will convert crop residues and livestock manure to biogas and provide stable, clean energy to local rural residents.
The project is important, because rapid agricultural development in China, while helping boost rural incomes and improve the nation’s food supply, also poses a threat to the environment and public health. Various activities, such as the production of crop residues and livestock manure, as well as the use of coal for cooking and heating by rural residents, have worsened air and water pollution.
As one of China’s leading agricultural producers, Hebei also has the worst air quality of all China’s provinces, with the heaviest and the longest duration of haze partly due to intensive farming and concentrated livestock production. Wheat, corn and cotton production alone generates about 61.8 million tons of crop residues every year. Around two-thirds of crop waste is used as fertilizer or animal feed, and the rest is mainly burned in open fields or used as fuel for household cooking and heating, causing indoor and outdoor air pollution. In addition, livestock farms generate about 30.7 million tons of livestock manure, which, without proper treatment, can pollute the water and spread diseases.
“The new project will demonstrate how the production and use of biogas can reduce environmental pollution and supply clean energy. The experience gained from the pilot can be used for promoting effective and sustainable use of the large amounts of agricultural wastes in Hebei Province and surrounding areas, and contribute to the efforts to improve air quality in the Jing-Jin-Ji region,” said Jin Liu, World Bank’s Senior Agriculture Specialist and task team leader for this project.
The project is expected to produce around 42 million cubic meters of biogas, which will be provided to about 96,100 rural households to cook with. By replacing coal, it is estimated to reduce around 58,780 tons of CO2 emissions every year. The remaining biogas will be upgraded and used as fuel for public transport in the project counties.