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China's energy problems are complex and on a scale probably unique in the world, and Chinese researchers and technologists have faced them with remarkable tenacity. This publication presents the collective experience of a group of more than 50 Chinese researchers whose work focuses on the particular energy problems of and energy solutions for the rural areas of the northeastern region of China. This region is characterized by harsh, cold winters, and relatively short agricultural cultivation periods. To promote development under such conditions, a range of energy requirements are confronted with a mosaic of energy technologies, which together are considered as a system, an Integrated Energy System.

Scientific, design and operational parameters are discussed for energy technologies such as biomass conversion to alcohol, through a fermentation and distillation process, and to bio-diesel fuels, through pyrolysis; solar passive systems for human and animal dwellings; biogas; and traditional and modern greenhouses.

The idea of putting together this publication arose once it was realized how much data and technical output there was from a project being carried out in Shenyang Agricultural University. This project has had the support of the Chinese Government through its National and its Liaoning Province Science and Technology Commissions as well as technical support from FAO, and financial support from UNDP. After five years of operation, the project has been able to put together an energy demonstration base where a number of technologies are assessed both individually and as a system. It has become clear that the collective knowledge acquired from doctoral theses, technical reports, congress presentations, lectures and consultancy reports from the various international consultants associated with the project, merit attention.

The highly specialized agronomic knowledge, particularly on sorghum species and plantations, the engineering skills required for bioenergy technologies, and the practical skills needed to adapt techniques from other parts of China and the world to Shenyang's ecological conditions, are the building blocks of this publication.

The interest of this publication, however, goes beyond the mere integration of a large number of individual articles. It provides an opportunity to perceive the particular approach and unique way of work of the Chinese researchers, and, throughout the publication, Chinese phraseology will enable readers to come into contact with a different approach to scientific and technical writing. During the editing and formatting process for this publication, carried out under difficult time constraints, an attempt was made to maintain as much as possible of the original language, hopefully not risking technical clarity.

The publication is complemented by a number of articles prepared by international experts in several disciplines, such as Mr. Carlos Coelho de Carvalho Neto, Senior Technical Adviser to the project, and other consultants.

Professor Lu Nan, and other staff from Shenyang Agricultural University, must be commended for the enormous task of coordinating the inputs for this publication. The authors, as well as the Chinese editors and translators, merit our highest appreciation, since they gave the opportunity to non-Chinese readers to learn some of the latest advances in energy research in China. Mrs. Marisa Moretti-Gunszt's assistance was invaluable in the preparation of this document for printing.

It is the hope of all those involved, the Editorial Board, Shenyang Agricultural University, FAO, UNDP and, of course, the authors, that this publication will be of interest and use to both researchers and policy makers in China as well as in other countries. It is also hoped that it will help further the understanding and dissemination of the Chinese experience in promoting energy development in its northeastern region, in order to contribute to the cooperation among individuals and institutions active in the energy field with the aim of advancing towards global sustainable development, and, in particular, that of rural populations.

Gustavo Best
Senior Energy Coordinator
Research and Technology Development Division

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