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India Solar, Wind, Biomass, Biofuels – EAI

India Biomass Energy

Latest News for Energy Efficiency, Solar, Wind, Biomass Power, Biofuels, Waste to Energy

Introduction

With serious concern globally and in India on the use of fossil fuels, it is important for India to start using renewable energy sources. India is the 7th largest country in the world spanning 328 million hectares and amply bestowed with renewable sources of energy. Among the renewable energy sources, biomass plays a vital role especially in rural areas, as it constitutes the major energy source to majority of households in India. Biomass energy is the utilization of organic matter present and can be utilized for various applications.

  • Biomass can be used to produce heat and electricity, or used in combined heat and power (CHP) plants.
  • Biomass can also be used in combination with fossil fuels (co-firing) to improve efficiency and reduce the build up of combustion residues.
  • Biomass can also replace petroleum as a source for transportation fuels.

Types of Biomass

Biomass is highly diverse in nature and classified on the basis of site of origin, as follows:
a. Field and plantation biomass
b. Industrial biomass
c. Forest biomass
d. Urban waste biomass
e. Aquatic biomass

For more information on the types of biomass, click here

Technologies involved in Biomass Energy Production

Biomass is a complex class of feed stocks with significant energy potential to apply different technologies for energy recovery. Typically technologies for biomass energy are broadly classified on the basis of principles of thermo chemistry as combustion, gasification, pyrolysis and biochemistry as anaerobic digestion, fermentation and trans-esterification. Each technology has its uniqueness to produce a major calorific end product and a mixture of by-products. 

Click here to know more about the technologies 

Biomass Energy in India 

  • India produces about 450-500 million tonnes of biomass per year. Biomass provides 32% of all the primary energy use in the country at present.
  • EAI estimates that the potential in the short term for power from biomass in India varies from about 18,000 MW, when the scope of biomass is as traditionally defined, to a high of about 50,000 MW if one were to expand the scope of definition of biomass.
  • The current share of biofuels in total fuel consumption is extremely low and is confined mainly to 5% blending of ethanol in gasoline, which the government has made mandatory in 10 states.
  • Currently, biodiesel is not sold on the Indian fuel market, but the government plans to meet 20% of the country’s diesel requirements by 2020 using biodiesel.
  • Plants like Jatropha curcas, Neem, Mahua and other wild plants are identified as the potential sources for biodiesel production in India.
  • There are about 63 million ha waste land in the country, out of which about 40 million ha area can be developed by undertaking plantations of Jatropha. India uses several incentive schemes to induce villagers to rehabilitate waste lands through the cultivation of Jatropha.
  • The Indian government is targeting a Jatropha plantation area of 11.2 million ha by 2012.

Government incentives and Subsidies for Biomass Energy Production

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) provides Central Financial Assistance (CFA) in the form of capital subsidy and financial incentives to the biomass energy projects in India. CFA is allotted to the projects on the basis of installed capacity, energy generation mode and its application etc. Financial support will be made available selectively through a transparent and competitive procedure.

More about the details of CFA for bioenergy

Bottlenecks faced by the Indian Biomass Industry

Biomass to Power/Heat

One of the most critical bottlenecks for biomass plants (based on any technology) is the supply chain bottlenecks that could result in non-availability of feedstock. A related problem is the volatility, or more precisely increase, in the feedstock price. Both these could render the project unviable. There is other concerns and bottlenecks as well such as: 

  • Lack of adequate policy framework and effective financing mechanisms
  • Lack of effective regulatory framework
  • Lack of technical capacity
  • Absence of effective information dissemination
  • Limited successful commercial demonstration model experience

 Biomass to Transportation fuels

 Biodiesel

One of the main problems in getting the biodiesel programme rolling is the difficulty linked to initiating large-scale cultivation of Jatropha. The following problems have been cited by farmers regarding Jatropha cultivation:  

  • Lack of confidence in farmers due to the delay in notifying, publicizing and explaining the government biodiesel policy.
  • No minimum support price.
  • In the absence of long-term purchase contracts, there are no buy-back arrangements or purchase centres for Jatropha plantations.
  • Lack of availability certified seeds of higher yield containing higher oil content.
  • No announcement of incentives/subsidy and other benefits proposed to be provided to farmers 

Bioethanol 

  • The overwhelmingly dominant factor in the production of ethanol in India is the price and availability of molasses.
  • The Central government sets the policy regarding ethanol blending, but the State governments control the movement of molasses and often restrict molasses transport over State boundaries.  State governments also impose excise taxes on potable alcohol sales, a lucrative source of revenue.