Household biogas digesters or medium–large-scale biogas plants: a conflicting issue in rural China

  • Xingdong WangEmail author
  • Ming Tu
  • Wenxing Liu
Research Article


There has been a conflicting issue in rural China that whether or not encouraging the development of medium–large-scale biogas plants (MLBPs) to reduce household biogas digesters (HBDs) will be better for China in the long run. In this study, we investigate the difference between HBD users and MLBP users and the factors that affect the biogas use of these two user types on the basis of a survey of 1125 households in four provinces in China. The results indicate that compared to HBD users, MLBP users have a higher ratio (29%) of biogas use, obtain a higher subsidy-to-cost ratio (25%), and present a more positive evaluation of biogas service (3%). For HBD users, installation years and service evaluation are significant predictors of biogas use. For MLBP users, in addition to installation years and service, the subsidy-to-cost ratio affects biogas use negatively, and the biogas price is a key constraint for biogas use. These results provide valuable insights into the future development of biogas energy in rural China and guidance for the development of biogas in similar countries worldwide.


Biogas energy User types Rural residents Sichuan Hubei Jiangxi Guizhou 


Funding information

This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 71663028 and 71963021), Jiangxi Science Planning Fund Program (Grant No. 19GL10), and 2011 Collaborative Innovation Center (JXDSSDMAAI).


  1. Bruun S, Jensen LS, Sommer S (2014) Small-scale household biogas digesters: an option for global warming mitigation or a potential climate bomb? Renew Sust Energ Rev 33:736–741. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Chen Y, Yang G, Sweeney S, Feng Y (2010) Household biogas use in rural China: a study of opportunities and constraints. Renew Sust Energ Rev 14:545–549. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chen Q, Yang H, Liu T, Zhang L (2016) Household biomass energy choice and its policy implications on improving rural livelihoods in Sichuan, China. Energy Policy 93:291–302. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cheng S, Li Z, Mang HP, Huba EM (2013) A review of prefabricated biogas digesters in China. Renew Sust Energ Rev 28:738–748. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cheng S, Li Z, Mang HP, Huba EM, Gao R, Wang X (2014) Development and application of prefabricated biogas digesters in developing countries. Renew Sust Energ Rev 34:387–400. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Deng Y, Xu J, Liu Y, Mancl K (2014) Biogas as a sustainable energy source in China: regional development strategy application and decision making. Renew Sust Energ Rev 35:294–303. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Fen C, Gao Y, Wei L, Fenwu L, Wuping Z, Yushan B, Xiaomei L (2017) Maximal methane potential of different animal manures collected in northwest region of China. Int J Agric Biol 10:202–208. Google Scholar
  8. Gosens J, Lu Y, He G, Bluemling B, Beckers TA (2013) Sustainability effects of household-scale biogas in rural China. Energy Policy 54:273–287. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gu L, Zhang YX, Wang JZ, Chen G, Battye H (2016) Where is the future of China’s biogas? Review, forecast, and policy implications. Pet Sci 13(3):604–624. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hao X, Shen F (2006) Evaluation on the composite benefit of household biogas digesters. Renew Energy 2:4–6 Scholar
  11. Kapoor R, Ghosh P, Kumar M, Vijay VK (2019) Evaluation of biogas upgrading technologies and future perspectives: a review. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int 26(12):11631–11661. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Li C, Liao Y, Wen X, Wang Y, Yang F (2015) The development and countermeasures of household biogas in northwest grain for green project areas of China. Renew Sust Energ Rev 44:835–846. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Liu W, Spaargaren G, Heerink N, Mol AP, Wang C (2013a) Energy consumption practices of rural households in north China: basic characteristics and potential for low carbon development. Energy Policy 55:128–138. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Liu W, Wang C, Mol AP (2013b) Rural public acceptance of renewable energy deployment: the case of Shandong in China. Appl Energy 102:1187–1196. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Martínez-Ruano JA, Caballero-Galván AS, Restrepo-Serna DL, Cardona CA (2018) Techno-economic and environmental assessment of biogas production from banana peel (Musa paradisiaca) in a biorefinery concept. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int 25:35971–35980. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Qu W, Tu Q, Bluemling B (2013) Which factors are effective for farmers’ biogas use?—evidence from a large-scale survey in China. Energy Policy 63:26–33. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Rasheed R, Khan N, Yasar A, Su Y Tabinda AB (2016a) Design and cost-benefit analysis of a novel anaerobic industrial bioenergy plant in Pakistan. Renew Energy 90:242–247. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Rasheed R, Yasar A, Tabinda AB, Khan N, Su Y, Afzaal M (2016b) Techno-economic impacts of innovative commercial industrial scale bioenergy plant in Pakistan. Pak J Agric Sci 53:647–652. Google Scholar
  19. Song Z, Zhang C, Yang G, Feng Y, Ren G, Han X (2014) Comparison of biogas development from households and medium and large-scale biogas plants in rural China. Renew Sust Energ Rev 33:204–213. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Sun D, Bai J, Qiu H, Cai Y (2014) Impact of government subsidies on household biogas use in rural China. Energy Policy 73:748–756. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Thu CTT, Cuong PH, Van Chao N, Trach NX, Sommer SG (2012) Manure management practices on biogas and non-biogas pig farms in developing countries—using livestock farms in Vietnam as an example. J Clean Prod 27:64–71. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Wang X, Lu X, Yang G, Feng Y, Ren G, Han X (2016a) Development process and probable future transformations of rural biogas in China. Renew Sust Energ Rev 55:703–712. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Wang C, Zhang Y, Zhang L, Pang M (2016b) Alternative policies to subsidize rural household biogas digesters. Energy Policy 93:187–195. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Xia Z (2013) Domestic biogas in a changing China: can biogas still meet the energy needs of China’s rural households. London, International Institute for Environment and Development. Accessed 12 Aug 2017
  25. Yousuf A, Sultana S, Monir MU, Karim A, Rahmaddulla SRB (2017) Social business models for empowering the biogas technology. Energy Sources Part B Econ Plann Policy 12(2):99–109. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Zhang B, Chen B (2017) Sustainability accounting of a household biogas project based on energy. Appl Energy 194:819–831. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Zhang R, Wei T, Glomsrød S, Shi Q (2014) Bioenergy consumption in rural China: evidence from a survey in three provinces. Energy Policy 75:136–145. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Zhang T., Yang Y, Xie, D (2015) Insights into the production potential and trends of China's rural biogas. Int J Energy Res 39: 1068–1082.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Economics and Management, Jiangxi Rural Revitalization Strategy Research InstituteJiangxi Agricultural UniversityNanchangChina
  2. 2.College of Economics & ManagementHuazhong Agricultural UniversityWuhanChina
  3. 3.School of Business AdministrationZhongnan University of Economics and LawWuhanChina

Personalised recommendations