The National Policy on Bio-fuels, approved by the Union Cabinet recently, will provide a huge impetus to the small but growing bio-energy sector in India.
The policy that calls for usage and production of ethanol from damaged food grains and farm products has paved way for optimal utilization of agricultural waste to produce bio-power. It has also made provisions to convert waste/plastic and municipal solid waste to fuel. It will play a crucial role for India in achieving the target of 10 GW of biomass power by 2022.
Bio-power sector in India has picked up pace in last two years and has even surpassed the annual targets set by the government. While, India’s clean energy sector missed its capacity addition target for second year in a row owing to lapses in Solar (roof-top) and wind energy sector, its Bio-power capacity for 2017-18 stood at 519 MW against the target of 340 MW. Industry players believe biomass power production is crucial for the country when it’s starring at piling municipal and agricultural waste across India.
As per Mr. Aditya Handa, MD and CEO, Abellon CleanEnergy, the policy, for the first time, provides a viable framework for the bio-energy sector in India. “India produces substantial amount of municipal waste and agricultural residue. There is a growing consensus among industry players and policy makers to look for ways of efficiently disposing these wastes and creating value out of them. However, such projects/plants need infrastructure for large-scale and environmentally safe processing of waste. Often, waste management companies willing to undertake projects/infrastructure development are faced with unrealistic expectations and financial uncertainties. With the National Biofuel Policy, the government has essentially given impetus for more investment from the private players in the sector. “
Energy from biomass is reliable as it is free of fluctuation and does not need storage. However, it is not the preferred renewable energy source due to unavailability of biomass supply chain on a yearly basis. Biomass from agriculture is available only after harvesting period which stretches only for 2-3 months in a year. Thus, there is a need to procure and then store required quantity of biomass within this stipulated time.
“With a roadmap in place, the policy will encourage setting up of supply chain and procurement mechanisms for bio-mass plants. Apart from energy generation, these residues can be harnessed in to produce solid bio-fuels such as bio pellets that can effectively replace LPG, diesel and other fossil fuel based systems across a broad spectrum of applications,” added Mr. Handa.
Biofuels in India are of strategic importance as it augers well with the ongoing initiatives of the Government such as Make in India, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan & Skill Development and offers great opportunity to integrate with the ambitious targets of doubling of Farmers’ Income, Import Reduction, Employment Generation and Waste to Wealth Creation. Biofuels programme in India has been largely impacted due to the sustained and quantum non-availability of domestic feedstock for biofuel production which needs to be addressed. In a bid to mitigate energy crisis, the Government of India has set a target to generate 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022. This includes 60 GW from wind power, 100 GW from solar power, 10 GW from biomass power and 5 GW from small hydro power.
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