CHINA WATCH A story on the China Central Television’s economy channel this week told how three young men carved out their own green business by using the natural resources in China’s dusty, vast and windswept Inner Mongolia.
“I came here for the wind”
Zhang jJan, a 34-year-old young man, has worked in Inner Mongolia for 8 years. “I came here for the wind.” He said, “People here used to consider the strong wind as catastrophe, but our company relies on the wind, utilizes the wind, and turns it into money.”
Zhang Jian has 26 colleagues to work with him, and now they have set up 100 wind power generators on a piece of small plain, producing more than 100 million kilowatt electricity in a year.
People in the Inner Mongolia have been battling against the creeping desert for decades. Now Hongye Hard Board Company is making money by turning a hardy tree into hard board and at the same time holding back the sand.
The key lies in the desert willow, a plant suited to the temperature extremes and lack of moisture of the Mongolian plains. All farmers need do to look after it is chopped off the branches once every three to four years, or the plant dies.
These fibrous branches of the plant, which grows wild in Inner Mongolia, are then sold by local farmers to Hongye Hard Board Company whose production is 80 thousand to 100 thousand steres a year which needs 12 tons of desert willow as raw material.
Not only the company is making money, planting and selling desert willow has become the major income of local farmers.
Apart from being made into hard board and paper, there are more new potential hidden in the delicate, small desert willow. Li Jinglu, who was in real estate business four years ago in Beijing, came to Inner Mongolia because he found out the sand shrubs, like the desert willow, contain much heating value even higher than that of coal.
After three years’ research, Li’s idea about building a bio-energy thermal power plant came true early this year, and the factory will begin its operation in 2008. The bio-energy thermal power plant will use the waste water from a nearby carbinol factory to generate electricity, and the plant ash left can be used to produce fertilizer. Li has already sighed a contract of 3500mu (about 244 hectares) of desert willow with a local raw material provider. The plant is expected to generate electricity of 180 to 210 million kw per year.