Generating sustainable electricity for western China's rural communities

This project involves local farmers who collect cotton stalks and burn them to generate carbon neutral power. This activity both creates sustainable electricity and creates an additional income stream for rural people in the project area, boosting the local economy.

The context

The Bachu Biomass project is located near the city of Kashgar in Xinjiang province on the historic Northern Silk Road at China's westernmost border. The region's rich culture has a strong tradition of trade and transfer and cotton growing for the textile industry is the region's main economic pillar. However, power generation in the area is almost exclusively coal-fired and produces high levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

The project

This project provides the province with renewable energy and simultaneously creates economic benefits for local farmers. The cotton stalks collected by farmers are sold to the power plant, which combusts this surplus biomass in a state-of-the-art strawfired boiler that generates thermal energy at a capacity of 12 MW. This energy is then supplied to the local electrical grid. This process creates ash as a waste product, which is then given back to the farmers free of charge as crop fertiliser.

The benefits

Prior to the implementation of the project, cotton stalks were considered a waste product that was burned open air in the fields. Now, it is collected and transformed into carbon neutral energy that powers the wider region, strengthening the regional grid against power failures. The project also strengthens local economies by creating jobs, supplementing incomes and providing free fertiliser to increase crop yields. In addition, the project owner provides scholarships to families in need and financial support for local cultural activities.

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