China has large biomass resources from agriculture and forest residues, and vast areas that can be used for decentralised energy generation and biofuel cultivation.
Government attention has turned to biomass for sustainable development. It aims to generate 30 gigawatts of electricity from biomass by 2020.
But by building biomass plants in the economically developed regions of east China, the strategy has overlooked poor and disadvantaged social groups in the country's rural areas, says Lin Gan in this China Dialogue article.
Lin argues that better targeted strategies based on modern biomass technologies could improve health conditions, reduce fossil fuel use, create jobs and generate income in rural areas.
People in these regions will only benefit from local projects that take into account their needs and surroundings, says Lin.
For example, many farmers still rely on forest biomass or coal-burning for cooking and heating, causing health problems. Providing modern, more fuel-efficient, biomass stoves would reduce this.
And with better technology farmers would be less likely to burn excess biomass in open fields, causing pollution.
By taking such issues into account China can set an example to other biomass-rich nations and combine sustainable rural development with reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.