This article presents an overview of the development and future perspectives of the Chinese biogas industry. The development of the industry has the potential to improve the rural environment and produce significant amounts of sustainable energy for China. Barriers to the development are the relatively weak environmental policies, imperfect financial policies and lack of long-term follow-up services. The rapid economic development of China has also seen a development in the scales of biogas plants constructed. Although the technology has been improved, this review has identified problems in the construction and operation of Chinese biogas plants, particularly in the efficiency of household systems. All levels of China's government acknowledge this and recent biogas projects have more focus on quality and less on the quantity. The intention is to gradually introduce stricter environmental policies, to provide better service systems, improve the financial policies that support the construction and follow-up service of biogas projects, promote the use of standardized engineering equipment and materials and standards for plant construction and production. This will promote the development of biogas projects at various scales further, and reduce the dependency on fossil fuels and emissions of greenhouse gases. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.