Biodigesters, China

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Households in the Sichuan biodigester project can now cook using renewable biogas

Project name
Sichuan household biodigester project
Project location
Sichuan Province, China
Funder and supplier
Natural Capital Partners
Standard
CDM, Gold Standard
Project status
Operational
Portfolio
2017

UN Sustainable Development Goals supported

About the project

The project distributes small-scale biogas plants, aiming for installations in one million low income households with livestock across the Sichuan Province of China.

The project is being implemented in a particularly disadvantaged region of China, with a typical rural disposable income of €347 a year. The Sichuan province contains 43 national poverty counties that qualify for economic assistance from the government.

About 2,000 people, most of them farmers and bricklayers before the project started, have been trained as biogas technicians to build the biogas plants and have been employed on a permanent basis by the Sichuan Rural Energy Office (SREO).

To support rural development and environmental protection, carbon finance is used to build on an existing governmental biogas programme to scale its distribution. Together with Chinese government subsidies, this covers roughly 40% of the cost of the biodigester, offering clean and affordable energy to homes.

By replacing solid fuels for household energy needs, the project reduces levels of indoor air pollution which can contribute to increased likelihood of respiratory illness. Biogas systems can also be connected to household toilets, leading to improved sanitary condition. Jobs are created for local masons and technicians.

As of November 2016, the project had installed over 395,000 biogas plants across the Sichuan province.

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Slow cooking and fried cooking using renewable biogas

Contribution to carbon reduction

1.936m tonnes of CO2e for the entire PoA since the project started in May 2012.

How do the projects contribute to carbon reduction?

The project supports the installation of robust, locally appropriate biogas plants that store 6-10m3 of household swine waste. Through the process of anaerobic digestion, the biogas plants digest manure and recover the methane (CH4) by-product.

The biogas is then fed into appliances such as cookstoves, rice cookers, water heaters and lighting to displace coal as the main household energy source.

Biogas produced by the digesters burns cleanly without producing ash or smoke, delivering a significant improvement to the livelihoods of household members.

Aside from the greenhouse gas emission reductions from the fuel-switch, by diverting manure to the biogas plant, the project helps reduce emissions that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere from decomposing manure in open deep pits.

Key benefits

  • Good Health & Well-being
    The project replaces solid fuels like coal for household energy needs. Such fuels cause indoor air pollution which can contribute to increased likelihood of illness, including acute lower respiratory infections such as pneumonia in young children, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer in women (and to a lesser degree in men)

    Biogas produced by the digesters burns cleanly without producing ash or smoke, delivering a significant improvement to the livelihoods of household members.

    By displacing other fuel types, the biogas plants grant women more time for other activities, as they no longer need to collect biomass or travel to purchase coal or spend as much time watching over the meal preparation and tending the fire.

  • Clean Water & Sanitation
    Some households connect household human waste to the bio-digestion systems improving sanitary conditions
  • Affordable & clean energy
    The project improves energy access by offering a scaled, free, renewable and clean energy source (biogas) for cooking, lighting and heating.
  • Decent work & economic growth
    The project specifically targets low income households, which are selected by the Sichuan Rural Energy Office (SREO) based on a comprehensive list of inclusion criteria (including per capita annual income).

    Carbon finance is used to provide these selected households with financial support. Together with Chinese government subsidies, it covers roughly 40% of the cost of the biodigester.

    With a sustainable and affordable energy source (biogas), households report a cost saving through avoided purchase of coal for cooking needs.

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    Left: Typical farmland in Sichuan province. Right: Local smallholders in Sichuan can benefit from a renewable source of biogas for cooking, domestic heating and lighting.

    In addition to the subsidies the project has a clear revenue sharing plan1, distributing revenues from carbon sales to participating households, the local rural energy office that provides biodigester servicing, and to the project developers.

    Across the entire region, there are over 10,550 staff working on installing biodigesters in rural households as part of the existing government programme.

    About 2,000 people, most of them farmers and bricklayers before the project started, have been trained as biogas technicians to build the biogas plants and have been employed on a permanent basis by SREO. The large majority of staff are certified technicians working in service centres or independently, while others work on project monitoring and administration.

Added value benefits

Carbon management projects are able to contribute to improving the livelihoods of local their communities in significant ways. These benefits are a vital part of the broader aims of creating lasting social and environmental sustainability. The benefits are in support of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and include improvements to local economies through employment, higher value produce and infrastructure upgrades. Many projects will have health benefits, education improvements and a positive impact on gender equality. Different types of projects will carry different benefits. Research commissioned by ICROA and carried out by Imperial College in 2014 set to quantify the impact of voluntary carbon market investments.

For every one tonne of carbon emission reduction, biogas projects deliver additional added value equal to $3042:

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  1. UPM gets 40%, OASIS gets 18%, households get 36%, SREO gets 6%.
  2. Source: Figures from ICROA survey Kountouris, Y., Makuch, Z., Tan Loh, E.F. (2014) ‘Quantification and Evaluation of the Voluntary Carbon Market’s Co-benefits’, Imperial College London University June 2014

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