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Biogas Extraction from Pig Manure in Hubei

Three workers
(Photo: The World Bank)

Project Activity

China is the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. According to estimates, between 14 and 20 percent of these emissions stem from agricultural production. At the same time, a large number of China’s farming-dependent population still lives in great poverty. Designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote sustainable development in developing countries, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) provides an instrument to combat both problems. As part of the CDM Hubei Eco-Farming Biogas Project Phase 1 project, biogas facilities are installed in various sizes in some 33,000 households, mostly poor, in the Chinese province of Hubei. Alongside installation of the biogas facilities and the gas burner needed to use the biogas, the sanitary facilities and kitchens in the respective homes are upgraded and pig sties are rebuilt.

The project finances installation of the biogas facilities and also provides the necessary equipment and material. In addition, training is provided to instruct local technicians and farmers in the use of the new technology. They receive knowledge in the construction, use, maintenance and monitoring of the biogas facilities. It is expected that together, the biogas facilities will produce an annual 12.17 million m3 of biogas.

Current Situation and Expected Emission Reductions

At present, the storage of animal manure in silage ditches is a common practice in the region. As the manure ferments, methane is released, a greenhouse gas which is 21 times stronger than carbon dioxide. The energy potential of the manure goes untapped. When it comes to cooking and heating, charcoal, firewood, straw and fossil fuels such as coal are used. Vast quantities of greenhouse gases are emitted as these burn. Because this practice is not only widespread but extremely affordable, it must be assumed that it would continue if the project were not completed. This situation provides the reference scenario.

Conducting the project other than under the CDM is highly unlikely, because although it receives financial backing from the World Bank and the Chinese government, over 60 percent of the necessary financing must be put up by the farmers themselves. Most farmers in the region have extremely low incomes, meaning that their access to loans is very limited. This situation only changes if the project is conducted as a CDM activity: a large portion of the revenue from the emissions certificates generated by the project is channelled back to the farmers, giving them an additional source of income. The loan guarantee scheme developed in conjunction with the local credit institute, in which the expected revenue from the sale of the emissions certificates is used to pay back the loan, allows loans to be taken out and also secures project participation for the 33,000 households.

To calculate the emission reductions achieved in the participating households over the project lifecycle, the two main emission sources in the reference scenario are used: firstly, the quantity of methane is calculated that would be emitted if generic pig husbandry were continued, and secondly, the emissions resulting from the burning of coal. These emissions, which amount to some 115,758 tCO2e per annum, were compared with those expected if the project is conducted (57,314 tCO2e/year). The difference between the two comes to 58,444 tCO2e. These are the emissions that could be avoided if the biogas project were implemented.

Verifying Emission Reductions

To ensure that these reductions are achieved over the entire project lifecycle, it is important to monitor a range of factors that could influence the emission reductions. The number of biogas facilities in operation is monitored annually and compared with the number of biogas cookers sold. The hours of operation of the biogas facilities are another key indicator. These are calculated based on the down time caused when the systems are emptied and then put back into operation. These lost hours are documented, as are the number of pigs per system. Random samples are taken to identify the destination of the sludge produced during biogas production.

Project Implementation: Current Status

Once all biogas facilities had been installed, the project was approved by the Chinese government in June 2008. It was registered by the CDM Executive Board on 19 February 2009. Actual GHG emission reductions  achieved during the last Monitoring Report from 31 December 2012 amount to 56,749 tCO2/year. This is 2.9% lower than the ex-ante calculated result. The main reason for this lower measured emission reduction is that some biogas digesters were not operational and swine population were less than expected. Since registration 273,982 tCO2e could be avoided by the projekt. The expected accumulated emissions will be more than 500,000 tCO2e during the whole project life cycle.

Project Type:

CDM Small Scale

Project Partners:

China: Hubei Qingjiang Zhongye Company Ltd.
Germany: BASF SE


Renewable Energy

Project Location:

Hubei Province, People’s Republic of China

Project Lifecycle:

10 years (not extendable)
19 February 2009 – 18 February 2019

Expected Emission Reductions:

58,444 tCO2e/year

Project Status:

Registered, in implementation

Point of Contact:

Bodo Einicke
RWE Power AG
Huyssenallee 2
45128 Essen
Tel.: +49 (0) 201 1228195