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Agricultural residues never go to waste. Not when they can be used for generating energy. In this context, the government of Punjab, India, plans to produce about 1,000 MW of green energy from livestock residues by 2015. When you think about it, this has huge economical and environmental benefits. In a region where large quantities of cattle manure become a major pollutant, this could be seen as an opportunity that could open a lot of doors.

Aside livestock residues, the state also generates nearly 21 million tons of rice stalks and similar biomass plant wastes annually, which can all go into the production of green power. The state government is thus planning to make renewable resources as the source of their power to contribute 10% of its total energy production in the next five years.

It is worthy to mention that Punjab already runs a biomethanation facility with a capacity of 1 MW, in a location close to Ludhiana. The facility uses methanogens (microbes that produce methane as a metabolic by-product) for the manufacture of methane gas. It currently uses 235 tons of cattle wastes to generate 18,000 kWh of electricity in addition to producing 45 tons of organic fertilizer every day.

Also, the Punjab Energy Development Agency has developed 318 MW of green power projects, which includes the Ludhiana plant, till date. These projects comprise 37 MW of small hydro facilities, 28 MW of biomass power facilities, 250 MW of biomass co-generation facilities and 2 MW of solar projects.

The agency also develops 132 MW of green power projects currently, which include 11 MW of hydropower, 100 MW of biomass co-generation and 20 MW of traditional biomass. If everything goes right and operational, the state will generate 700 MW of green power by 2012. That’s big! It is worthwhile to note that the planters are also getting an income of nearly RS. 4,000 per acre every year in the process of marketing agro wastes to biomass facilities.

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