If there are any upsides to serious environmental problems it might be the brilliant (and often low tech) solutions that are invented to tackle them. The Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy
, which were announced last Saturday in London with the help of Al Gore, showcase and handsomely reward some of the most powerful ideas being put to good use in places where they're needed most, reducing pollution and poverty while inspiring and fostering environmental innovation everywhere. Bilingual Chinadialogue
spoke to one of the Enterprise Award winners, Pan Shijiao
, who runs Beijing Shenzhou Daxu Bio-energy Technology Company
, or Daxu for short. While based just north of Beijing, where the population is rising alongside the economy, the company produces biogas stoves for use in the countryside, where 70 percent of China's population still lives. Using cylinders of crop waste for fuel instead of unhealthy and unsustainable coal and firewood, the stove is over 40 percent efficient, and can cook up supper in 15 to 20 minutes without the billows of smoke pollution typical in rural areas.
When asked about China's impact on the world's climate, Mr Pan was sanguine about the country's multi-sided, public-private approach to the problem:
As a manager of a small enterprise, I think I should run my own company very well and contribute to this process. We have a philosophy: to do practical things in terms of energy saving and emissions reductions, so that we can have a better environment. And in doing this we address the same environmental concerns as the central government. It’s my opinion that adopting these stoves across the country could reduce emissions by around 20%. There are currently some 200 million rural households in China, and almost all of them have coal stoves.
Those households aren't just potential renewable energy users. They're potential customers.
See the other winners from India, Peru, Philippines, Bangladesh, Nepal, Ghana, Tanzania and Laos here. And see our coverage of pellet stoves, plant oil stoves, and corn kernel stoves.