China begins operation of first dual biomass/solar power plant

Two biomass power generators were fired up as the country’s first dual biomass/solar power plant  began operation in Zhejiang province on Thursday.

The Zhejiang Longquan Biomass Power Plant  is expected to produce 162 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually by consuming 250,000 tons of biomass such as saw dust, straw and other agricultural waste, Xinhua News Agency reported.

The plant’s solar power, which will begin construction this month and begin operation in four months, is expected to produce 1.44 megawatts.

With the solar power alone, the plant is expected to match power production equivalent of burning 430 tons of coal.

The new power plant is also expected to provide an income boost for rural farmers selling their biowaste, which would otherwise be discarded or burned.

One of the plants first customers, a farmer from Longquan City, Zhejiang, sold a truck full of saw dust and earned 1,500 yuan ($242 U.S. dollars).

Scientists estimate that if China recycled all of its biomass, it could offset coal usage by as much as 656 million tons of coal per year.

9.3% more land needed to feed large Chinese cities by 2030

Doubling the pace of expansion for China’s economy is its population’s consumption of meat,  dairy and other land-intensive foods.

Over the course of 30 years, China consumption of land and resource intensive foods has quadrupled,  transforming from a country where meat was  considered a luxury to the largest consumer of it in the world.

In 2012,  China consumed 71 million tons of meat per year, 25% the world’s total and double that of the United States, according to a report by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

In a recent report, scientists from Renmin University in Beijing and Yale University forecast a 9.3% increase in the already strained agricultural land resources of large cities by 2030  if the trend continues.

Factoring in production of  oil and fat products, meat, eggs, aquatic products, dairy, and liquor they projected per capita land demand for food production in large cities would increase from 1402m²  in 2010 to 1533 by 2030.

For small and medium-sized cities, where slower wage growth has stunted the growth of land-intensive food, they projected an increase of 5.3%, from 1192 to 1255 m² per capita.

“Our results imply that urban economic development can significantly affect the final outcomes of land requirements for food production,” the study, Urban economic development, changes in food consumption patterns and land requirements for food production in China, said.

“Urban economic development is expected to accelerate the rate of change towards an affluent diet, which can lead to much higher future land requirements.”

It was published in the China Agriculture Ecnomic Review.