Enabling Zero Carbon Energy in Rural Towns
- The low/zero carbon development of rural towns and villages is based on the improved development and utilization of renewable energy resources, adopting renewable energy technologies, integrated energy management and energy efficiency technologies/techniques to meet increasing energy demand and accelerate rural energy transformation. Low/zero carbon development will contribute to improve "ecological livability" in China's rural revitalization strategy, promote the circular economy, and contribute to the achievement of China's National Determined Contributions (NDCs) targets under the Paris Agreement.
- The implementation of the EZCERTV project, in collaboration with Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA), will contribute to several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as set by the United Nations General Assembly. EZCERTV is relevant primarily to Goal 7: “Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”, but also to Goal 8: “Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”, Goal 11: “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”, Goal 13: “Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts by regulating emissions and promoting developments in renewable energy”, and to a lesser extent to Goal 2: “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”.
The energy sector in rural China faces several challenges:
- Since rural villages and towns are very small and scattered throughout the country, energy delivery is very expensive and at times unreliable. Electric transmission lines incur losses of more than 7%, which is above the accepted European and American standards. On the other hand, coal is very expensive at over US$ 150/ton, which greatly affects the rural economy and its development potential.
- Most households use a combination of coal, straw and firewood for cooking and domestic heating. Combustion is often done inefficiently and in an uncontrolled way, causing severe health consequences because of the release of air pollutants. In addition, the excess waste biomass generated from agriculture and livestock is disposed of in landfills, which threatens both soil and water basins.
- In an effort to improve their living standards, many rural villages and towns are moving away from the use of straw and firewood and are switching towards coal, despite its high price, which would contribute to significantly increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
- Renewable Energy (RE) sources and Energy Efficiency (EE) technologies and measures are barely utilized because of the inadequate local capacity and awareness about these technologies.
- These challenges could be overcome by increasing the utilization of indigenous RE resources, which in rural China include solar energy, both thermal and photovoltaic, wind energy, geothermal energy, and biomass. Increasing the use of indigenous RE resources would not only lead to considerable environmental and economic benefits, but would also reduce rising concerns over energy security, since China is increasingly becoming a net energy importer. However, only biomass is utilized to a significant extent (although very inefficiently) and there are few and small applications of solar thermal water heaters and solar photovoltaic panels for public illumination. China’s central government has made great efforts to promote RE and EE technologies and measures in rural villages and towns, but the limited educational level and insufficient financial resources available in rural areas have so far prevented the achievement of the desired results.
- Formulate policies and institutional mechanisms on zero carbon town and village development
- Integrate renewable energy and energy efficiency technology applications for zero carbon town and village development
- Facilitate rural zero carbon development and lifestyle popularization, and knowledge dissemination
- Although not specifically targeting women groups as key stakeholders or direct beneficiaries, the project indirectly resulted in the promotion of gender equality by enhancing women participation.