Green ahead

Power Watch India - - CONTENTS - Mon­ica Chaturvedi

Biomass: Turn­ing a chal­lenge into an op­por­tu­nity.

At a re­cent press con­fer­ence, Upen­dra Tri­pa­thy, Sec­re­tary, Min­istry of New and Re­new­able En­ergy (MNRE) ex­pressed that biomass is a stressed sec­tor and this is the rea­son why the gov­ern­ment is ex­pand­ing its biomass port­fo­lio into ethanol, derived from agri-residue. The ethanol pro­duced will be used for fuel blend­ing, which is the need of the hour, across the coun­try. He also men­tioned that the gov­ern­ment is al­lo­cat­ing Rs 2,000 mil­lion for set­ting up a fund that will help the stressed projects, and this will be han­dled by In­dian Re­new­able En­ergy Devel­op­ment Agency (IREDA).

The MNRE has set a tar­get of gen­er­at­ing 10 GW of in­stalled power from biomass re­sources such as crop residues and agro-in­dus­trial wastes. Ac­cord­ing to re­cent re­ports, Pun­jab alone has the po­ten­tial to gen­er­ate 2 GW of en­ergy from biomass re­sources. As per Anirudh Te­wari, Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary for In­dus­tries, Com­merce, and Re­new­able En­ergy in the Gov­ern­ment of Pun­jab, biomass is an im­por­tant part of the north­ern In­dian state’s en­ergy mar­ket. “We re­cently de­vel­oped 150MW of projects on biomass but we have po­ten­tial to gen­er­ate about 2,000MW. That is the kind of biomass avail­able,” he was quoted as say­ing. The states which are cur­rently lead­ing in terms of to­tal megawatts of com­mis­sioned power and co­gen­er­a­tion projects in­clude Ma­ha­rash­tra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kar­nataka, and Ut­tar Pradesh.

In a re­cent push to the biomass sec­tor in the coun­try, the gov­ern­ment has asked oil mar­ket­ing com­pa­nies (OMCs) to set up biomass-based ethanol projects. The gov­ern­ment is said to be push­ing for 10% ethanol blend­ing with petrol, from the cur­rent 4%. In In­dia, ethanol is cur­rently made from mo­lasses pro­duced from sug­ar­cane.

In­dian Oil Cor­po­ra­tion Limited (In­di­anOil), In­dia’s flag­ship na­tional oil com­pany has se­lected Praj In­dus­tries Ltd., a Pune-based global process so­lu­tions provider, as its tech­nol­ogy part­ner for set­ting up mul­ti­ple 2nd gen­er­a­tion (2G) bio-ethanol plants based on indigenously de­vel­oped tech­nol­ogy. In­di­anOil will be set­ting up three such 2G bio-ethanol plants. In fact, Praj is pre­par­ing to ex­e­cute 2G ethanol projects over Rs 3,000 crore over a pe­ri­ods of 2-3 years. At the World Bio-fuels Day con­fer­ence held in New Delhi re­cently, the Gov­ern­ment of In­dia had an­nounced that a ‘biomass-based bio-fuels pol­icy’ is in the off­ing to give boost to the agro-econ­omy and to pro­mote clean, re­new­able en­ergy. This en­deav­our will be a so­cio-eco­nomic and en­vi­ron­men­tal en­abler as the farm­ing com­mu­nity will be able to gen­er­ate ad­di­tional rev­enues from agri-waste, which will be utilised to pro­duce bio-ethanol.

In­dus­tries such as sugar, pa­per and pulp, tex­tiles, fer­til­iz­ers, petroleum, petro­chem­i­cals and food pro­cess­ing, etc. re­quire elec­tri­cal as well as ther­mal en­ergy for their op­er­a­tions. Th­ese re­quire­ments can ei­ther be met through dif­fer­ent en­ergy sources, or from a sin­gle source, which is ca­pa­ble of gen­er­at­ing elec­tric­ity as well as pro­duc­ing ther­mal en­ergy. The si­mul­ta­ne­ous production of power and ther­mal en­ergy from a sin­gle fuel source is termed as co-gen­er­a­tion, and the power gen­er­ated can be used for meet­ing the cap­tive re­quire­ments. On the other hand, the sur­plus power pro­duced can be ex­ported to the grid. In view of the limited avail­abil­ity of fos­sil fuels, and given its ad­verse ef­fects on the en­vi­ron­men­tal, it is more than ap­pro­pri­ate to use non-con­ven­tional en­ergy sources in­clud­ing biomass re­sources for gen­er­a­tion of en­ergy.

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