TAIYUAN, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- The coal-rich province of Shanxi used an increasing amount of coalbed methane last year as it eyes methane as a source of clean energy.
Shanxi extracted around 7.1 billion cubic meters of methane gas and utilized 6.6 billion cubic meters, with a year-on-year growth of 26.4 percent and 29.6 percent, respectively, according to the Shanxi Institute of Energy.
The province is rich in coalbed methane, a clean energy source similar to natural gas. Shanxi has an estimated 8.3 trillion cubic meters of coalbed methane within 2,000 meters below ground, accounting for 27.7 percent of the country's total.
As of 2015, the accumulative proven reserves of coalbed methane had exceeded 578 billion cubic meters, accounting for about 88 percent of the country's total.
Shanxi has rolled out government plans and policies to speed up the exploration and development of methane gas. The province plans to increase its output to 8.5 billion cubic meters by 2020.
Coalbed methane is a byproduct of coal and a major killer in coal mine accidents. Utilization can help reduce risks in mining, cut greenhouse gas emissions and ease gas shortages.