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Solar Energy, a New Source of Energy for Ningxia Farmers

Shi Weihong, an ordinary farmer at a mountainous village in southern Ningxia, now cooks meals and keeps warm in winter with a solar energy stove, a clean energy source that has became popular in the region.

We used to cook with firewood, and many villagers worried about collecting enough firewood for cooking all year round. With the installation of a solar stove at home, there is no need to fetch firewood anymore," Shi said.

Ningxia is rich in solar energy resources with an annual sunshine time of more than 2,800 hours. The region built three solar energy stove factories in the late 1990s, which turn out 50,000 stoves a year. Solar energy has been popularized in 19 rural counties in Ningxia and is now benefiting 100,000 farmers.

Solar energy in rural areas has eliminated cooking in choking smoke, lightened farmers' labor raised their income and benefited the environment, said Han Fei, director of the Rural Energy Station under the Ningxia Regional Department of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry.

Meanwhile, solar energy devices have been installed on roofs of teaching buildings, rural clinics and homes for the aged.

Other provinces and autonomous regions in western China, such as Gansu, Qinghai, Xinjiang, Tibet and Inner Mongolia, are also using solar energy in production and daily life.

According to statistics released recently, 300,000 solar devices have been installed in northwest China over the past five years, reducing the consumption of firewood by 6 million to 10 million tons a year.

(Xinhua News Agency October 22, 2004)

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