This post is a part of BioBiz’s Bio-CNG Perspectives.
BioBiz, a division of EAI, is a leading market intelligence & strategic consulting firm for the Indian bio-based sectors.
This blog post uses the terms bio-CNG and renewable natural gas (RNG) interchangeably.
Bio-CNG or bio-compressed natural gas, also known as sustainable natural gas or biomethane, is a biogas which has been upgraded to a quality similar to fossil natural gas and having a methane concentration of 90% or greater. As the gas is derived from natural and renewable sources, it is also termed renewable natural gas (RNG).
The RNG sector in India is still nascent and emerging. With the government of India launching the SATAT initiative for setting up 5000 RNG plants by 2025 and guaranteed offtake of RNG, the sector is expected to have many large stakeholders in the near future. As of 2019, there are 17 RNG plants operational across various states of India. Some of these companies are also technology providers while most of the others are collocated plants. For early entrants to have competitive advantages, it is essential to understand the competitive landscape in detail. This blog post provides details on the existing RNG companies in India and their operations.
RNG producing companies in India
The following is the list of major RNG producing companies in India. Details on the type of feedstock, technology and end use market segments for these companies are provided.
- Green Elephant
- Spectrum Renewable Energy Limited
- Carbon Masters
- Primove Engineering
- Mahindra World City
- Bharat Biogas Energy Ltd.
- Radix Lifespaces
1. Green Elephant
Green Elephant is a Pune based firm producing bio-CNG as well as a technology provider. Green Elephant has built in 2010 (Phase 1) and 2015 (Phase 2) India’s largest biogas upgradation plant utilising up to 600 m3/day of spent wash and producing upto 7920 kg of RNG. The RNG produced is supplied to industries. The offered CBG contains a 97% methane content and fulfills all Indian standards.
The plant located in Satara is based on CSTR (Continuous Stirred Tank reactor technology) and is promoted by Elephant Equity, Madaus Capital and other European Investors and financed by the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) under the assistance of KfW Bank, Germany.
With its project partners Green Elephant is further planning to expand its activities and seeking for cooperation partners providing organic waste.
Green Elephant has developed a unique technology and build several pre-fabricated and re-locatable biogas plants for customers in India, Far-East and Europe. Customers using this zero discharge solution are Volkswagen, TATA, Royal Family of Abu Dhabi.
The offered anaerobic digestion plant has a capacity of 0,5 – 2 tons organic waste per day. Green Elephant offers the following models: GB500, GB1000, GB2000, GB 3000. The models can utilise different volumes and waste streams.
2. Spectrum Renewable Energy Limited (SREL)
SREL, a Haryana based firm is dedicated to the development of innovative biogas projects in rural markets that capture renewable energy from organic waste products, while increasing agricultural profitability and sustainability through environmentally responsible practices. The company has set up a large scale bio-CNG production plant at Kolhapur with a capacity of 100 TPD using press mud from the Warana sugar factory. The plant uses CSTR based technology and produces 8000 kg of bio-CNG per day. This RNG is supplied to industries. The cleaned biogas constitutes over 92% methane.
3. Carbon Masters
Carbon Masters, a Bangalore based firm is a carbon management company that spun out of the University Of Edinburgh, Scotland and has offices in UK, India and Ecuador. The company has installed its own bio-CNG plant of capacity 40 TPD using wet waste such as food waste, cow dung and poultry litter. The bio-CNG produced is supplied to the restaurants. In addition, the company offers complete end-to-end solutions for waste management for bulk waste generators such as hotels, IT parks, commercial kitchens, apartment complexes etc. As part of this solution, the company offers bio-CNG technology – Carbonlites-In-A-Box – a containerized bio-CNG technology solution for IT parks, apartment blocks, temples, colleges and large manufacturing sites which generate food waste in large quantities.
Carbonlites-In-A-Box is a fully functioning biogas plant housed inside refurbished shipping containers. It’s completely customizable and can process organic waste streams from 500kgs to 5 tons and produce up to 250kgs of bio-CNG (equivalent to its weight in LPG) per day. It could also produce 10,000 litres of liquid fertilizer. It does all this in just a one-third of the space occupied by a conventional biogas plant.
4. Primove Engineering
Incorporated in 2008, Primove Engineering Pvt. Ltd. (PEPL) is a nationally recognized EPC Company in the domain of gaseous fuels and energy. Their initiatives in the field of renewable energy have led to the development of novel technologies for the conversion of agro-residue and waste into Bio-CNG for transportation and industrial applications. Primove is a subsidiary of VJ Coresoft Pvt. Ltd.
The company has also set up its own bio-CNG plant at Pune of capacity 100 kg/day using rice straw and Bajra. The bio-CNG produced is sold to customers as automotive fuel through its own dispensing station. Branded under the name AgroGas, the bio-CNG is produced by extracting biogas from agricultural, factory, and farm waste products like Bagasse, Rice Straw, Maize Straw, Wheat Straw, and Soyabean Thrash through a patented process. The biogas is further purified to meet the standard IS 16087:2016, and compressed and stored under high pressure in cylinder cascades for use in transportation and industrial applications.
5. Mahindra World City
Mahindra World City, Chennai has set up a bio-CNG plant at its campus as a joint CSR initiative between Mahindra Research Valley (MRV) and Mahindra World City Developers Limited (MWCDL). The plant also uses technology based on KVIC and IIT Delhi models. The plant is spread over an area of 1000 m2. The Bio-CNG plant converts 100% of the eight tons of food and kitchen waste generated daily in the city into 1000 m3 of raw biogas. This raw biogas is enriched to yield 400 kg/day of purified CNG grade fuel which is equivalent to a 200 kW power plant. As a by-product, four tons of organic fertilizer is produced each day. The green energy (Bio-CNG) is effectively used to replace CNG as an automotive fuel (for CNG buses and tractors) and LPG for cooking purposes, as well as to power street lights at Mahindra World City, Chennai. The organic fertilizer is used by farmers to enhance soil fertility. Furthermore, the power generated is used for buses for free shuttle service and tractors for cultivation.
6. Bharat Biogas Energy Ltd.
The company is a Gujarat based firm involved in the production of bio-CNG and other organic products for agronomic applications. The company has set up a bio-CNG plant using 153 TPD urban and 38 TPD industrial waste to produce 6538 kg/day of RNG. The RNG produced is supplied to Amul.
7. Radix Lifespaces
The company is a Bangalore based firm offering technology solutions for bio-CNG for different types of feedstock. The company has setup its own plant of capacity 40 TPD using chicken litter, waste from food manufacturing companies and food waste. It uses proprietary technology including purification and upgradation. The company has also tied up with entrepreneurs in North India to set up bio-CNG plants using paddy straw with their innovative technology. The 2000 kg/day bio-CNG produced by the company is sold to industrial and commercial segments. One USP of Radix is that they tag the RNG prices to LPG and sell it at a reduced cost.
Other operational RNG plants
|Company||Location||Feedstock||RNG capacity (kg/day)||Website|
|Greenearth Biogas Pvt Ltd.||Gujarat||163 TPD urban waste||6000||https://bit.ly/2P9yGQS|
|Sarovar Agro Farms & Biogas Pvt. Ltd||Haryana||Poultry litter||600||–|
|Panchkula Farms Pvt. Ltd||Chandigarh||Poultry litter||1450||–|
|Shri Dayoday Urja Evam Jaivik Khaad||MP||Cattle dung||1200||–|
|Clarus Bioenergy Pvt. Ltd||Maharashtra||Cattle dung||3613||–|
|Arc Biofuel Pvt. Ltd||Punjab||Cattle dung||1847||https://bit.ly/2RG9H9h|
|Brajdham Power Pvt. Ltd||Rajasthan||STP||3000||https://bit.ly/2PtnQnH|
|NRB Bio-Energy||Rajasthan||Cattle dung||1000||https://bit.ly/35btsta|
|Samagra Agro||UP||Urban waste||2000||–|
|Century Pulp & Paper||Uttarakhand||Paper mill effluent||5460||https://bit.ly/2YyTVOU|
In addition to the above operational plants, details for three RNG companies have been provided, whose operations are either unclear or they are defunct plants.
1. Sampurn Agri Ventures
Sampurn Agri Ventures Pvt. Ltd. (SAVPL) claims to be the first company to set up a Biogas plant utilising only Paddy Straw as the sole feed. In its efforts to develop a technology that could be replicated and fully manufactured in India, at an affordable cost, Sampurn Agri Ventures Pvt. Ltd. had commissioned Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. Together, IIT-D and SAVPL have successfully found a solution to the open field burning of Paddy Straw; that will not only prevent its burning, but also produce renewable energy and organic fertiliser.
However, actual operation of this plant is unclear.
2. IOT Infrastructure and Energy Services Ltd & Mabagas
The biogas plant set up in Namakkal in 2013, is a joint venture between Mabagas and IOT Infrastructure & Energy Services Ltd. The plant was constructed in close collaboration with IOT’s EPC business unit, thus taking advantage of existing synergies within the Marquard & Bahls group. The facility was a single-step wet fermentation plant comprising four fermenters (two cascades with two fermenters each) with an overall volume of 16,000 cubic meters. In full operation, approx. 8 million cubic meters of biogas per year could be produced, which would be converted into power via two combined heat and power stations of 1.2 MW(el) each.
The plant digested solely waste material such as chicken litter and residues from the local starch and sugar industries. In doing so, IOT Mabagas Ltd. deliberately refrained from using energy crops, which are often in competition with the food production.
However in 2018, the plant has been acquired by IOCL who is planning to set up bio-CNG plants using agrowastes.
3. Noble Exchange
Noble Exchange is a Maharashtra based firm offering solutions for sustainable waste management. The company had, in 2015, installed a 300 TPD bio-CNG plant in Pune using food waste with an operational capacity of 100 TPD. However, the plant was closed in 2016 owing to political issues.
Based on the above data, the following are the analysis of RNG production companies by parameters across the value chain.
- Feedstock: Co-digestion plants comprising a mix of food waste, industrial waste (press mud, chicken litter, etc.) as feedstock are ideal for reliable renewable natural gas production.
- Relying on food waste alone is not ideal, especially for large scale plants owing to political issues
- While agro waste, in particular paddy straw seems to be a potential feedstock for renewable natural gas production, the technology is still nascent and no large scale plants exist as of end 2019.
- Technology: Commonly used technology is CSTR reactor; however, proprietary technology based on containerized models also exist for medium scale plants of 50 TPD capacity
- Ideal plant capacity for a commercial scale plant could be in the range of 50-100 TPD or 2000-5000 kg of renewable natural gas per day
- End use markets: Commercial and industrial segments are suitable end user markets owing to increased RNG adoption rate and higher selling price. While potential demand exists from the OMCs for RNG, offtake has started only recently in Dec 2019, and the offtake price has not been so attractive to the project developers (Rs. 46 / kg) compared to other end use segments (Rs. 55-60 / kg). Hence, this segment could be focused when there is a sufficient production of RNG and long term realizable business partnerships with OMCs have been ensured
- Differentiation models: Adopting differentiated business models across the value chain could help the companies hold a unique position in the market. This would include models like tagging the price of RNG with LPG, partnerships with bulk waste generators for feedstock who, in turn, could be potential customers for RNG and more.
- Related background: It is essential for an entrepreneur to build a proper team, especially at higher positions with people having technical and market expertise in the field of biogas and related energy sectors. The team could also comprise experts or partners who have experience in working with related international companies as this could assist in brand building, technology innovations and marketing
- R&D: Innovations across the value chain, especially technology is essential for the project developer to hold a unique position in the market
- Business partnerships: Partnerships with Indian and International stakeholders, especially prominent companies across the value chain could be value adding for the growth of the business
- Marketing: Brand building and effective marketing strategies to increase the demand for the product is essential for the project developer to actively compete with existing and emerging companies
- Geography: Most of the existing renewable natural gas plants are located in the eastern part of India, especially Gujarat and Maharashtra. This could be owing to the abundant availability of feedstock, especially agro and industrial waste and also the growing awareness.
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