Renewable and alternative energy sources are now being used widely throughout some of China's most remote areas.
Until last year, E'erdun Batu, an ordinary herdsman in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, had to use a tallow oil lamp for lighting and burn cattle manure for cooking or indoor heating.
That was his way of life and that of his neighbors who have been living in the region's Xilin Gol League in Inner Mongolia for generations.
However, their lives were radically changed when a new way of energy came to them with the use of electricity by wind power.
Today, small-scale wind-driven generators, part of China's efforts to promote the use of such renewable energy, are now dotted throughout the open land of the league.
So far this new form of alternative energy using wind power has helped put more than 130,000 sets of small-scale generators into operation in pastures throughout Inner Mongolia with electricity supply secured for more than 600,000 herdsmen.
And now Inner Mongolia can boast being at the front ranks for renewable energy in China and has the biggest output for this form of energy in the nation.
Renewable energy experts are now stressing that because of China's growing economy, the country can now reduce its heavy dependence on energies based on fossil fuels such as oil and coal through developing various renewable energies on a large scale.
Projects such as the one in Inner Mongolia, they maintain, will help ease China's growing shortage of power supply and boost the environment by curbing pollution.
With China's rapid economic growth, more and more local authorities and enterprises are attaching great importance to the exploitation of "green energies" including wind, solar, biomass, geothermal and ocean powers.
Within 30 years stocks of China's renewable energies will equal 800 million tons of standard coal, or half of China's existing annual output of standard coal, experts predict.
Local government authorities believe this would provide enormous potential energy for China to tap into for its development in the years ahead.
China is rich in wind power resources. Reserves of the energy have been estimated at 3.2 billion kilowatts with about one-third of this power available for an installed capacity of 253 million kilowatts.
China's wind power reserves and available capacity have been ranked the first of its type in the world.
The country's existing installed capacity of wind power totals 760,000 kilowatts, statistics show.
With the development of wind power supply in some areas, the use of solar energy has progressed in some other provinces of China.
The annual radiant energy China gets from the sun is equivalent to power supplied by burning 2.4 trillion tons of standard coal, statistics indicate.
At present, about 800 solar power stations have been built across the country with an installed capacity of 19,600 kilowatts.
Meanwhile, marsh gas tanks used across China's rural areas have also benefited 13 million residents.
Last year China pooled 1 billion yuan (US$123.3 million) worth of national debt as investment into further promotion of biogas projects throughout its rural areas.
The use of biomass for energy supplies in rural areas, mostly biogas power generation, has already exceeded 250 million tons of standard coal or about half of the total consumed energy of rural residents in their daily life.
In Jinzhong and Jincheng prefectures of North China's Shanxi Province, marsh gas has become a key energy source of indoor winter heating.
China is also using tidal energy and geoheat in its eastern coastal areas and southwest provinces including Yunnan, Sichuan and Guizhou.
(China Daily April 27, 2006)