Solar energy bathing to revolutionize hygiene habits in rural China

Solar energy bathing to revolutionize hygiene habits in rural China

BEIJING, Dec. 17 -- Energy experts have devised a cost-effective solar energy bathing scheme aimed at introducing the China's rural population to the joys of a hot bath.

Statistics show that at least 200 million out of China's 800 million rural people only bathe once a month. Tens of millions were found to only bathe once every quarter or every six months, leading to a high number of diseases which resulted from bad hygiene.

The problem is especially acute in western Chinese villages where some farmers and herdsmen do not bathe for a whole lifetime because of poverty and lack of facilities.

Solar energy is being promoted in China's countryside as an alternative to inefficient and polluting gas stoves. The stoves rely on the burning of low-quality briquette that contains sulfur dioxide and other poisonous elements which can cause harm to human health and the environment.

A solar energy bathing scheme set up by the Shandong-based Huangming Solar Energy Group and Yijianeng Solar Energy Company brought the idea of regular bathing to Zhuangke village in Dezhou city, east China's Shandong province, last winter.

For a fee of one yuan (12.5 U.S. cents) per head and 1.5 yuan (18.75 cents) in winter, more than 1,000 villagers can bathe in a village bathhouse. More than 100 solar energy bathhouses have been set up in Dezhou.

Solar energy experts said more than 150 million Chinese people are using solar energy water heaters, over an area of about 75 million square meters. The area is increasing by 15 million square meters a year.

A public fund for China's solar energy development has been managed by the Huangming Group and Yijianeng company and they have invested about eight million yuan (about one million U.S. dollars) in the construction of solar energy bathhouses in China's rural areas.