Journal of Power and Energy Engineering, 2013, 1, 63-66 Published Online October 2013 (
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. JPEE
Development Status, Problems and Countermeasures of
Large- and Intermediate-Scale Biogas Projects in Beijing’s
Mountainous Counties
Zhongren Zhou1,2, Zhujun Zhou1,3
1Institute of Integrated Development of Agriculture, Beijing Academy of Agriculture and Forestry Sciences, Beijing, China; 2Key
Laboratory of Urban Agriculture (North), Ministry of Agriculture, Beijing, China; 3College of Economics & Management, China
Agricultural University, Beijing, China.
Received September 2013
Developing large- and intermediate-scale biogas project is an important gripper of Beijing rural energy construction and
“Green Beijing” construction. The existing projects have made obvious energy and environment benefits, but the over-
all effects have not been fully exerted. There is still a large gap between Beijing’s ecological civilization goal and the
operation effect. This paper takes biogas projects of Beijing seven mountainous counties as examples, the development
status, ecological environment construction and existing problems of operating are explained respectively. Finally,
some countermeasures and suggestions are proposed for promoting the sustainable development of biogas project in
Beijing, such as strengthening technical innovation and setting standards, innovating development patterns and planning
reasonable layout, improve the maintenance mechanism and intensify policy support.
Keywords: Biogas Project; Development Status; Countermeasures; Beijing
1. Introduction
Large- and intermediate-scale biogas project is an im-
portant type of renewable energy exploitation and utili-
zation. It can efficiently use the agricultural waste like
making the waste harmless and resourceful, producing
clean energy for farmers to raise their quality of life, and
reducing pollution emissions as well [1,2]. It can also
change the pattern of agricultural growth, develop circu-
lar economy, and extend agriculture chain, which will
improve rural surplus labor’s employment and increase
farmers’ income. In recent years, with the supports from
government policies, such as “New countryside construc-
tion ”, China’ s large - and intermediate-scale biogas projects
have made fast progress. The number of biogas project
increased from 2000 in 1359, to 2009 in 72,695. The total
biogas volume increased from 639,200 m3 to 8567,800
m3 [3]. The projects made a crucial contribution to eco-
logical, economical and social development.
As China’s capital and an oversized energy consump-
tion city, Beijing is facing a more serious energy and
environment, urban and rural issues in the construction of
“Green Beijing” and the process of world city. Large and
medium-sized biogas project as an effective gripper of
these problems, the Beijing municipal government attach-
es great importance to its development. From year 2003
to 2009, 302 million Yuan has been invested into 103
biogas engineering constructions. However, on the other
hand, some technology and management problems have
emerged in the course of rapid development, so that
some projects cannot be used properly, even abandoned
or stopped using [2,4]. They present a severe test of large
and medium-sized biogas projects’ sustainable develop-
ment. This paper takes seven mountainous counties in
Beijing as examples, analyzes the main factors that affect
the development, and consequently provides references
for regional biogas engineering’s sustainable develop-
2. Current State of Biogas Projects in Beijing
Mountainous Counties
2.1. Basic Information of Beijing Mountainous
Beijing’s mountainous counties include Fangshan, Men-
tougou, Changping, Pinggu, Huairou, Miyun and Yanq-
ing. Taihang Mountains is located at Beijing west and
Yanshan Mountains in the north. The whole counties cov-
er an area of 10417.2 km2accounted for 62% of the
Development Status, Problems and Countermeasures of Large- and
Intermediate-Scale Biogas Projects in Beijing’s Mountainous Counties
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. JPEE
Beijing area. They are important ecological barriers and
water source protection areas of the capital. What’s more,
environment-friendly industry base is located there. They
have supported the sustainable development of Beijing,
meanwhile provided residents with recreational space.
However, ecological environment construction as a do-
minant strategy limits the regional economic and social
development; as a result, these regions became Beijing’s
economically-weak areas. According to the statistics, in
2010, per capita net income of farmers is 11,460 Yuan,
accounted for 82.6% of that in flat areas, which is 13,867
2.2. Large- and Intermediate-Scale Biogas
Projects in Beijing Mountainous
By the end of 2010, Beijing has established 108 large-
and intermediate-scale biogas projects, 64 of them are
located in Beijing’s seven counties, accounted for 59% of
the total number. Existing biogas engineering applica-
tions of anaerob ic reacto r are u p -flow solids reactor (USR),
continuous stirred tank reactor (CSTR), high concentra-
tions plug flow reactor (HCF), but generally dominated
by USR technology. The specific distributions are: Fang-
shan County has 30 projectsThen Yanqing, Changping,
Miyun, Pinggu and Huairou, each has 5 to 9 projects,
Mentougou has only one project, but is already stopped
using because of relocation. Therefore all the 64 projects’
operation status are: 57 of them are operating, and the
rest 7 are disused or abandoned. All of the biogas projects
which su pply 16,500 farm e rs (See Table 1).
2.3. Ecological Environmental Effects
There are mainly two ecological environmental benefits
of large- and intermediate-scale biogas projects. First, by
means of digesting the livestock waste, it is possible to
produce high quality fuel instead of traditional fossil
energy that can promote energy conservation and emis-
sions reduction. Second, using biogas residue and slurry
to develop circular agriculture, improve the soil, produce
green organic products, and improve food safety. Accord-
ing to the test, if all the 64 biogas projects operated nor-
mally all the year round for 1.65 × 104 households, then
2.68 × 106 tons livestock manure would be disposed; 6.0
× 106 m3 gases produced; 1.65 × 104 tce saved; 1.15 ×
106 tons CO2 reduced; 8300 tons of SO2 and NOx re-
duced [5,6]. Moreover, biogas residue and slurry could
be used as fertilizers, so that they can enhance crop re-
sistance to diseases, insects, drought, and cold; increase
ecological benefits. According to the analyses, the suc-
cessful implementations of biogas projects have a signif-
icant effect on mountainous suburb eco-environment con-
struction, especially reduced emission of greenhouse gases
such as CO2, SO2 and pollution gas NOx (See Table 2).
Table 1. The operation status of biogas stations in Beijing mountainous suburb (2010).
County Total Actual supply number (household) Operation status(biogas station)
operating Disused or Aband oned
Mentougou 1 0 0 1
Fangshan 30 7036 28 2
Changping 7 1840 5 2
Pinggu 5 1383 5 0
Huairou 5 1776 5 0
Miyun 7 3170 5 2
Yanqing 9 1250 9 0
Total 64 16,455 57 7
Table 2. Supply situation of biogas stations in Beijing mountainous suburb.
County Number
(biogas station) Beneficiary
(farmer house hold) Coal-saving (tce) CO2 emission
reduction (×105to ns) SO2 emission
reduction (ton) NOx emission
reduction (ton)
Mentougou 1 0 0 0 0 0
Fangshan 30 7036 7036 4.93 1836.45 1688.47
Changping 7 1840 1840 1.29 480.25 441.56
Pinggu 5 1383 1383 0.97 360.98 331.89
Huairou 5 1776 1776 1.24 463.55 426.20
Miyun 7 3170 3170 2.22 827.39 760.72
Yanqing 9 1250 1250 0.88 342.34 317.26
Total 64 16,455 16,455 11.53 4310.96 3966.1
Footnote: According to investigation and statistics of “Three Starting” projects, each household user saves 1 tce per year.
Development Status, Problems and Countermeasures of Large- and
Intermediate-Scale Biogas Projects in Beijing’s Mountainous Counties
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. JPEE
3. Main Problems
In general, Biogas projects in Beijing mountainous sub-
urb have made remarkable achievements. But there is
still a large gap between operation status and Beijing’s
future ecological construction goal. The main problems
are as follows:
3.1. High Operating Cost, Poor Project
At first, the biogas projects of Beijing mountainous coun-
ties were oriented to welfare management, so the gas
charges are commonly low, about 1 to 2.1 Yuan/m3,
equals to 1/3 to 2/3 the same amount of liquefied petro-
leum gas (LPG) expenditure. However, projects’ fixed
investment was higher for the first stage, and the overall
running cost would be much higher if costs like raw ma-
terial, management, maintenance and heating in the win-
ter are included. With current charging standards, most
of the projects cannot self-operate. Only when the gov-
ernment invests special funds of management and the
village collective money, the projects can keep running
smoothly. It means that some projects in economically-
weak areas cannot be operated nor mally.
3.2. Lack of Long-Term Plan, Part of the
Engineering Material Cannot Be
At first, construction site must have enough raw mate-
rials of animal manure in biogas engineering. Actually,
there are many other problems existing in the course of
implementing, such as lacking of consideration on at-
mosphere and water resources protection. In the mean-
while, the adjustment of urban-rural development may
limit livestock breeding, or the livestock farms are re-
quired to move. As a result, some materials of projects
cannot be obtained right on the spot, running cost are
increased because of external purchase.
3.3. By-Products Are Not Efficiently Uti lized,
Influence Comprehensive Benefits
One of the most important purposes of developing biogas
projects is to solve organic waste pollution and produce
high quality organic fertilizer. But nowadays, most of
biogas residue and slurry in Beijing suburb are left un-
used or abandoned. For this reason, biogas manures didn’t
exert their values. In addition, some of them are partially
aggregated or overused that exceed environment capacity,
results in secondary pollution. Therefore, the biogas ma-
nures did not reflect their green economic benefits, so
that the comprehensive profits of biogas projects are in-
3.4. Lack of Policies Support, High Pressure on
Engineering Management and Maintenance
Since the biogas engineering serves agriculture, rural areas,
and farmers, it has some public goods properties, like
strong externalities. However, it only takes the form of
government purchase for demonstration and promotion
in earlier stage; after that, the actual op erations didn’t get
the government subsidies, so that it brings about high
pressures on engineering management and maintenance.
At present, supporting policies about biogas engineering
development are limited, particularly special policies. For
example, in 2011, municipal government had established
“Beijing Municipal Peoples Government’s advice on
strengthening rural infrastructure maintenance and man-
agement”, but biogas engineering management and main-
tenance funds of some counties are not guaranteed in
4. Countermeasures and Proposals
4.1. Strengthening Technical Innovation, Setting
Norms and Standards
The government should strengthen technical innovation;
focus on increasing unit volume gas production rate, es-
pecially low temperature fermentation problem solving.
Improve operation stability, reliability, and automation
level of biogas equipment. Consolidate technical support
system of biogas project development of Beijing. For-
mulate different technology processes, routes and plans
for large- and intermediate-scale biogas projects. Setting
norms and standards for engineering in Beijing, standar-
dizing stereotypes applied to related and associated equip-
ment. Promote the standardization of engineering con-
4.2. Innovating Development Patterns, Planning
Reasonable Layout
Biogas engineering has minimum scale of economic op-
eration. I t’s not econ omical if the proje ct scale is to o large
for the resource capacity, because it not only leads to
more resources idled and wasted, but also increases the
unit cost of investment. The biogas engineering should
be integrated with cycle agricultural development, pro-
duce high added-value of biogas manure, improve the
overall economic performance, and strengthen the engi-
neering’s self-operation capacity. On the present basis of
biogas projects, we should innovate development patterns,
implement intensively scale development. The projects
should supply gas to big central villages, or combined
villages that adjacent. Meanwhile, on the new biogas
projects layout, we should take the requirement of cities
and towns development planning and ecological envi-
Development Status, Problems and Countermeasures of Large- and
Intermediate-Scale Biogas Projects in Beijing’s Mountainous Counties
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. JPEE
ronment protection into consideration to avoid separation
between the engineering and raw material bases.
4.3. Improve the Management and Maintenance
Mechanism, Intensify Policy Support
As the saying goes, “Construction accounts for 30%, the
management accounts for 70%”. The operation perfor-
mance of biogas engineering is closely related to man-
agement and maintenance. In that case, the existing in-
stitutional building should be improved and professional
biogas service department be built to provide complete
service assurance. The contribution of biogas projects to
Beijing rural energy construction and “agriculture, rural
areas, and farmers” must be recognized. During the initial
stage of biogas industrialization, the government should
positively carry out supportive policies, due to the high
operating cost and weak market competitiveness of bio-
gas projects, build up diversified and multichannel engi-
neering financing system. At the same time, we should
scientifically evaluate engineering’s ecological and social
benefits in order to carry out ecological compensation.
As the support on policy-making is enhanced, policy
advantages can be transformed into industrial, technical
and economic advantages. Finally, the biogas projects
will achieve the g oal of marketization, econ omies of scale
and low-cost.
5. Acknowledgements
This work was financially supported by a Innovation Fund
of Beijing Academy of Agriculture and Forestry Sciences
(Project no. CXJJ2013) and a research named “Study of
Promoting Consulting & Services ability (2012-2013)”
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