UP leads in setting up biogas plants
According to the data cited above, 75 of these plants are being set up in Maharashtra, 59 in Haryana, 35 in Andhra Pradesh, 24 in Punjab, and seven in Delhi.
The government has issued 515 letters of intent so far for setting up compressed biogas (CBG) plants across the country with a bulk of them–126–in Uttar Pradesh, according to official data. The plants are being set up as part of efforts to reduce dependence on imported fuel and to check pollution from crop residue burning that exacerbates air quality crisis in the National Capital Region (NCR) every winter, officials said.
According to the data cited above, 75 of these plants are being set up in Maharashtra, 59 in Haryana, 35 in Andhra Pradesh, 24 in Punjab, and seven in Delhi. Gujarat has got the go-ahead for setting up 32 plants, Karnataka 25, Madhya Pradesh 24, Assam two, Bihar 11, Odisha nine, Chhattisgarh 22, Rajasthan five, Goa two, Tamil Nadu 16, Telangana nine, Jammu & Kashmir two, Uttarakhand nine, Jharkhand seven and West Bengal (13). The estimated cost for the 515 plants is about Rs 18,000 crore.
A petroleum ministry spokesperson said under the Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation scheme, 5,000 plants are expected to be set up by 2023. The plants have the potential of producing 15 million metric tonne CBG and to proportionately reduce India’s dependence on energy imports, the spokesperson added.
Bio-mass sources such as agricultural residue, cattle dung, sugarcane press mud, municipal solid waste, and sewage treatment plant waste produce biogas through the process of anaerobic decomposition. The biogas is purified to remove hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, and water vapour to produce and compress CBG, which has more than 90% methane content, the (spokesperson?) said.
“CBG has calorific value and other properties similar to compressed natural gas (CNG). Hence, it can be utilised as a green renewable automotive fuel. It can replace CNG in automotive, industrial, and commercial areas.”
He said the move will also check pollution due to stubble burning. “Bio-mass surplus in India is about 150 million tonnes. From late September through October of each year, farmers mainly from Punjab and Haryana burn an estimated 35 million tonnes of crop waste as a low-cost straw-disposal practice. CBG plants can curb this practice by giving additional income options to the farmers,” he said.
The smoke from stubble burning to make way for winter crop sowing combines with vehicular and industrial pollution and triggers air quality crisis in New Delhi and surrounding areas.
India imports nearly 83% of crude oil its processes. About 50% of its natural gas requirement is also imported. The government has set a target to reduce this import dependence by 10% over the next two years.
Commercial sale of CBG from seven Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) outlets have started for the first time an alternative to natural gas. Two of these outlets are in Maharashtra (Pune and Kohlapur) while five others are in Tamil Nadu (two in Salem and one each in Namakkal, Rasipuram, and Puduchatram), the (spokesperson?) said.
Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan inaugurated one such plant at Namakkal last month. Speaking on the occasion, he said the government has been promoting biofuels including CBG to increase the green-energy mix, reduce import dependence, create employment, especially in semi-urban and rural areas, and reduce pollution. “Usage of CBG shall assist in achieving climate change goals of India as per the Paris Agreement 2015,” he said. He added the CBG project is aligned with flagship schemes like Swachh Bharat (clean India)’, Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) and Make in India.
The business is lucrative for entrepreneurs as state-run oil majors such as IOC and GAIL India take offtake guarantee to such plants. The government is also considering giving it a priority sector lending tag for easy and cheaper finance. It subsidies setting up of CBG projects, which could be availed up to 2020-21, the spokesperson said.
According to Pradhan, the government is in the process of including bio-manure in the Fertilizer Control Order, 1985, to make the project more lucrative. Bio-manure is a key by-product of CBG plants. The move will make it easier for such plants to market bio-manure and provide an opportunity for organic farming.
According to the oil ministry, 5,000 CBG plants are expected to produce 50 million metric tonnes of bio-manure.
The spokesperson said countries like Germany, Italy, UK, France and Switzerland are promoting biogas usage. “The number of biogas plants in Germany has doubled to nearly 9,000 plants from 4,136 plants in 2010. The total biogas production capacity of the plants is 8.98 billion cubic meter, which is equivalent to 6.6 million metric tonnes.”