India is poised to utilize its huge biomass potential in the coming years. Biomass and organic waste sources like paddy straw, farm stubble, agricultural residue, cattle dung, sugarcane press mud, distillery spent wash, municipal solid waste, sewage treatment plants waste, offer huge potential for biogas production.
During a session in the Lok Sabha, Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, said, “The government is promoting the use of compressed biogas as an alternative green transport fuel for the efficient management of biomass and organic waste. In this direction, the oil public sector units (PSUs) launched the Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT) initiative on October 1, 2018.
SATAT initiative has the potential of addressing environmental problems arising from landfill emissions, farm stubble burning, and bringing down the dependency on oil imports. Until June 2019, oil and gas marketing companies have awarded letters of intent (LoIs) to 344 plants for the production and supply of compressed biogas, informed Pradhan.
Pradhan added that Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL), through its wholly-owned subsidiary HPCL Biofuels Limited (HBL), is operating two integrated sugar, ethanol, and cogeneration plants at Suguali and Lauriya, in East and West Champaran districts of Bihar.
Biofuels in India are of strategic importance as they help in tackling pollution levels and augur well with the government’s ongoing initiatives, such as Make in India, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, and Skill Development. Keeping this in mind, in May 2018, the central government cabinet approved the National Policy on Biofuels – 2018.
Since then, the thrust in this sector has gradually been increasing. In March 2019, the government notified the Pradhan Mantri JI-VAN (Jaiv Indhan- Vatavaran Anukool fasal awashesh Nivaran) Yojana for providing financial support (viability gap funding) to integrated bioethanol projects using lignocellulosic biomass and other renewable feedstock to set up the second generation ethanol projects across the country.
To help tackle air pollution issues, the Ministry of Power in 2018 issued a policy that calls for using 5-10% of biomass pellets alongside coal for power generation in thermal power plants across the country.
A program to support the promotion of biomass-based cogeneration in sugar mills and other industries was also announced in May 2018 by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy’s biomass power division.
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Saumy is a senior staff reporter with MercomIndia.com covering business and energy news since 2016. Prior to Mercom, Saumy was a copy editor at Thomson Reuters. Saumy earned his Bachelors Degree in Journalism & Mass Communication from the Manipal Institute of Communication at Manipal University. More articles from Saumy Prateek.