Northeast China's Jilin Province will open its first power plant using biological materials at the end of the year.
"With a total investment of 520 million yuan (US$67.35 million) and covering 8 hectares, the plant will convert 300,000 tons of stalks into 300 million kilowatts of electric power annually," said Wang Lingfang, chairman of the board of Shandong Luneng Construction Group.
Stalks, the stems of plants, used as feed for livestock, can be easily found in villages of China.
Construction of the Jilin Luneng Nongan Biology Power Plant, a subsidiary of the Shandong Luneng Construction Group, started on April 22.
Located in Nongan, one of the major grain production counties in China, the annual output value of the power plant is expected to be 220 million yuan (US$28.5 million).
"Our annual grain production is 2.5 million tons, which accounts for 10 percent of the whole Jilin Province. Each year, 7.5 million tons of stalks are available in the county," Li Zhongbin, head of Nongan county said.
The power plant will greatly boost development of the local economy, and increase farmers' annual income by 60 million yuan (US$7.8 million), he added.
More than 8,000 tons of ash fertilizer annually will also be provided to farmers for free after the plant begins operations.
Statistics show China produces 350 million tons of vegetable stalks every year, 24 percent of which is used as livestock feed, 15 percent as fertilizers, 40 percent as fuel, and 18.7 percent is discarded.
The country has abundant biological resources, and together with its stalks production, it exceeds 720 million tons, of which 604 million tons can be used as energy.
"Compared with coal, stalks have a low carbon and sulfur content. To promote this type of power plant throughout the country will not only improve the quality of the environment, but also effectively solve the shortage of coal which many enterprises face," Sun Li, director of the Energy Research Institute of Shandong Academy of Sciences, said.
Shanxian County in East China's Shandong Province opened its first biological power plant at the beginning of the year.
East China's Jiangsu Province and Heilongjiang Province in China's Northeast are also embarking on plans to build such plants.
Denmark was the first country in the world to build plants using stalks to generate electricity. Its first plant opened in 1998.
Today, the largest power plant using stalks is the Elyan Power Plant in England. It has a power generating capacity of 38 megawatts.
(China Daily May 8, 2007)