India, with its burgeoning population and increasing energy demands, faces a critical need for sustainable and eco-friendly energy sources. Biogas, in this pursuit, has emerged as a promising solution. Biogas, a renewable energy source produced from organic waste, has gained substantial traction in recent years due to its potential to alleviate energy poverty and reduce environmental degradation. ES Ranganathan, former Director at GAIL, emphasizes that in India’s pursuit of achieving net-zero emissions by 2070, the significance of biogas will be indispensable in attaining the government’s ambitious goal. It is imperative to understand that India’s biogas market is expected to grow from $1.47 billion in 2022 to $2.25 Billion in 2029 at a CAGR of 6.3% in the forecast period, 2022-2029. The rapid expansion strongly indicates that India’s biogas industry offers a highly compelling opportunity, making a strong case for itself.
The recent inclusion of Reliance Industries, Adani Group, and Indian Oil in setting up compressed biogas (CBG) plants marks a significant stride towards a sustainable and eco-friendly energy future. “Several noteworthy biogas projects in India serve as exemplars of the potential of this technology.
The ‘Delhi Milk Scheme Biogas Plant’ is a prime example, where dairy waste was utilized to generate biogas, reducing both waste disposal problems and energy costs for the dairy,” said ES Ranganathan. “It showcases the successful large-scale implementation of biogas technology in urban areas, demonstrating its potential to address the dual challenges of waste management and energy supply,” added Ranganathan. With a successful track record and positive case studies, biogas has emerged as a viable solution to address India’s energy needs while mitigating environmental impacts.
Recent years have witnessed significant technological progress in biogas plant design and operations. The introduction of advanced anaerobic digesters, such as continuous stirred-tank reactors (CSTRs) and plug-flow digesters, has greatly improved biogas production efficiency. These modern digesters enhance the breakdown of organic matter, resulting in higher biogas yields per unit of feedstock. Additionally, the integration of pre-treatment techniques like mechanical sorting and enzymatic hydrolysis has accelerated the decomposition process, making biogas production more efficient and economically viable.
Furthermore, the incorporation of smart monitoring and control systems allows for real-time optimization of biogas plant operations. This enables operators to adjust factors like temperature, pH levels, and retention times, ensuring optimal conditions for microorganisms responsible for biogas production.
Policy Interventions and Financial Incentivisation
Government policies and financial incentives have played a pivotal role in driving the adoption of biogas technology in India. Various state and central schemes provide subsidies, tax benefits, and grants to promote the establishment of biogas plants. Furthermore, the introduction of government schemes like the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, which aims to provide clean cooking fuel to rural households, further spurring the adoption of biogas technology. “Finance Minister of India, Nirmala Sitharaman, in her budget speech for 2023-24, announced the setting up of 500 biogas plants across the country under the Gobardhan scheme. Of these, 75 plants were to be set up in urban areas,” cited ES Ranganathan.
Climate Change Mitigation
The widespread adoption of biogas technology has significant implications for climate change mitigation. “Biogas production helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions by capturing and utilizing methane, a potent greenhouse gas, which would otherwise be released into the atmosphere during the decomposition of organic waste. This aligns with India’s commitment to combat climate change as outlined in the Paris Agreement,” mentioned ES Ranganathan. With the recent introduction of the Global Biofuel Alliance launched at the G20 Summit held in New Delhi, India could benefit considerably. As per the Indian Biogas Association (IBA), opportunities worth $500 Bn could be generated in the next three years. Out of which a whopping $200 Bn opportunities could be generated through biogas alone. In the case of India, the primary objective behind biofuel adoption is to diminish its reliance on importing crude oil from the Middle East and other regions. Biofuels offer a complete alternative to petroleum-based fuels in this regard.
In a nutshell, the recent developments in biogas plants in India represent a notable step towards achieving sustainable and cleaner energy solutions. With increasing government support, technological advancements, and a growing awareness of the benefits of biogas, India is well-positioned to further harness the potential of this renewable energy source. As the country continues its transition towards a greener future, biogas technology is poised to play a pivotal role in shaping India’s energy landscape.