World Bank loans money to China for biogas project

By Ryan C. Christiansen
Web exclusive posted Dec. 12, 2008 at 10:27 a.m. CST

The World Bank has announced that it will invest $120 million in China's National Rural Biogas Program to use anaerobic digestion to process waste to produce biogas for cooking. The grant will help farmers in China's Anhui, Hunan, Guangxi and Hubei provinces and Chongqing municipality residents improve their living conditions by using anaerobic digestion to process human, livestock, plant agricultural, and organic household waste to produce biogas for cooking.

The $120 million loan from The World Bank will be used to build the digesters, which will be 2,000-gallons to 2,500-gallons (8-10-cubic-meter) in volume apiece, and to pipe the biogas to individual homes. The loan will help improve kitchens to include gas-burning stoves and the funds will also be used to build animal sheds and household toilet facilities. A portion of the funding will go to train and equip farmers and technicians to maintain and fix the anaerobic digestion and biogas delivery systems.

The World Bank said the general benefits of the project include the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through the combustion of methane and the reduced burning of coal and firewood for cooking. Rural Chinese households will benefit directly from a decrease in respiratory and eye ailments associated with smoke from traditional fuel stoves, as well as from a decrease in the overall quantity of pathogens in their homes. Farmers will benefit from using the effluent from the digesters as fertilizer and Chinese women, especially, will benefit from reduced labor associated with collecting firewood for cooking.

The World Bank said China has invested more than $375 million in its National Rural Biogas Program. Launched in 2001, the program has helped approximately 7.2 million rural Chinese households begin cooking with biogas. Previous biogas campaigns in the 1950s and 1970s encountered difficulties with immature technology and inadequate support systems, according to The World Bank.