Low Cost energy system for Rural Areas of China and Improvement in Biomass Application based on Game Theory

Last June 5 to 10, 2014, Psychology Volunteers on Bikes External Relations Officer Monica Manluluyo attended the 2014 International Student Conference on Environment and Sustainability. The 6-day conference was held in Tongji University, Shanghai, China where experts on environment, energy, urban development and economy discussed regional and global ecological civilization and green development in the new age together with participants around the world.

Prof. Zhang Xu is the Dean of Heating Ventilation, Air-Conditioning and Gas Institute, School of Mechanical Engineering in Tongji University. He is a member of a specialist group on New Sources Energy Committee of Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development of China (MOHURD), General secretary and executive director of Shanghai Society of Refrigeration (SSR), and the vice director of Shanghai Committee of the Council of Building Environment and Facilities Branch of China Exploration & Design Association (CNBEF). He talked about A Study on the Improvement of the Rural Energy Efficiency in China based on Evolution by Game Theory during the 2014 International Student Conference on Environment and Sustainability: Symposium on Energy Transition and Climate Change held last June 5, 2014 at Tongji University, Shanghai, China.

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Within 20 years, 400 farmers moved from rural to urban China, but another 500 million people now live in the countryside. As such, the amount of buildings there is much bigger compared to the cities. With the increase of infrastructures and GDP also comes the increase in energy consumption and there is a noticeable decrease in biomass which is used for low cost energy systems.

200 million tons of biomass are burned or discarded, and these unused resources contribute a lot to energy production. Solid biomass can be briquetted and used for mixed combustion with coal. However, biomass briquetting is more expensive than coal by 400RMB/ton so it is much less used. Bio gas, pyrolytic or ferment gasification and bio diesel are some of the other uses of biomass.

The amount of discarded biomass can support a lot of power plants, and to encourage farmers to make good use of this resource, Game Theory is applied. Game Theory is the study of strategic decision making. It first addressed zero-sum games, such that one person’s gains exactly equal net losses of the other participant or participants.

In China, an unbalanced exchange involves financial support of the government to the farmers for them to give their unused wheat straws to power plants. This, however, is not the ideal setup. So to achieve a balanced exchange, a middle man is needed to bridge the farmers and the power plants. This will allow the farmers to make money from the wheat straws that they will normally burn while giving the power plants sufficient resources that will lower energy cost.