In a unique initiative, China has started the world's largest cow-dung methane power plant in the Inner Mongolia region, thus using the greenhouse gas methane for generating electricity on a massive scale.
According to a report in ENN, the power plant, which was started with an investment of 45 million RMB (roughly 5.7 million dollars) from the country's largest milk producer - Mengniu Dairy, is able to supply 10 million kilowatt-hours of electricity to the national power grid.
Methane gas is the second-largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions worldwide after carbon dioxide, the report said.
An adult cow emits 80 to 110 kilograms of the gas over its lifetime. Worldwide, 1.2 billion large ruminants, including cows, produce an estimated 80 million tons of methane annually, accounting for some 28 percent of global methane emissions from human-related activities, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.
In total, the livestock sector is responsible for 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
But the power plant in china has been able to use this harmful gas as an energy source to produce electricity on a large scale.
Using equipment and technology from Germany, the plant processes the dung, urine, and waste water from some 10,000 cows on Mengniu's farm. The facility is able to produce 12,000 cubic meters of methane and generate 30,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity daily.
The heat derived from the power generation will be used for daily heating at the farm, and the water will be recycled for irrigation.
The facility also produces 200,000 tons of organic fertilizers a year, a practice that will save 5,000 tons of coal annually.
While reducing pollution and saving energy, the Mengniu plant also contributes to diversifying the power-generation portfolio of the region.
The Mengniu facility is the first such methane-capture plant in China's dairy industry. Other Chinese dairy producers, including Yili Group, have similar projects on their agendas.