On October 1, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas & Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, launched an initiative aimed at developing supply of renewable natural gas for India’s automotive market. He said that the gas is a clean and cheaper mode of fuel and the Government has taken several steps to promote its production and usage.
Working with PSU Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs), the Minister invited Expressions of Interest from potential entrepreneurs to set up Compressed BioGas (CBG) production plants and make available CBG as an automotive fuel. The EoI is available on the websites of the OMCs and can be filled from 1st October, 2018 to 31st March, 2019.
The Petroleum Minister said the Government is keen to set up 5,000 CBG plants in the next 5 years, and for this purpose, production off-take guarantee is being given for such plants. There will be no restriction on the technology choice and Government is incurring Rs 75,000 Crore (USD 10.1 million) capital expenditure for setting up infrastructure for City Gas distribution networks.
Besides the potential to boost availability of more affordable transport fuels and better use of agricultural residue, cattle dung and municipal solid waste, the CBG plants will provide an additional revenue source to farmers, and 75,000 direct job opportunities and many hundred thousands of indirect jobs. He said that not only OMCs, but also other Gas distribution companies and other concerned departments should also take part in it.
Titled SATAT, the initiative is aimed at providing a Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation as a developmental effort that would benefit both vehicle-users as well as farmers and entrepreneurs. This initiative holds great promise for efficient municipal solid waste management and in tackling the problem of polluted urban air due to farm stubble-burning and carbon emissions. Use of CBG will also help bring down dependency on crude oil imports and in realising the Prime Minister’s vision of enhancing farmers’ income, rural employment and entrepreneurship.
Compressed Bio-Gas – a Renewable Natural Gas
Biogas is produced naturally through a process of anaerobic decomposition from waste / bio-mass sources like agriculture residue, cattle dung, sugarcane press mud, municipal solid waste, sewage treatment plant waste, etc. Other waste streams, i.e, rotten potatoes from cold storages, rotten vegetables, dairy plants, chicken/poultry litter, food waste, horticulture waste, forestry residues and treated organic waste from industrial effluent treatment plants (ETPs) can be used to generate biogas.
After purification to 95% or higher methane content, it is compressed and used in the same way as Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), being almost identical in composition and energy potential. With calorific value (~52,000 KJ/kg) and other properties similar to CNG, CBG can be used as an alternative, renewable automotive fuel. Given the abundance of biomass in the country, CBG has the potential to replace CNG in automotive, industrial and commercial uses in the coming years.
India aims to capitalise on the multiple benefits derived from converting organic waste into CBG on a commercial scale:
- Responsible waste management, reduction in carbon emissions and pollution
- Additional revenue source for farmers
- Boost to entrepreneurship, rural economy and employment
- Support to national commitments in achieving climate change goals
- Reduction in import of natural gas and crude oil
- Buffer against crude oil/gas price fluctuations
The potential for CBG production from various sources in India is estimated at about 62 million tonnes per annum.
CBG Plant-to-Market Setup
Compressed Bio-Gas plants are proposed to be set up mainly through independent entrepreneurs. CBG produced at these plants will be transported through cascades of cylinders to the fuel station networks of OMCs for marketing as a green transport fuel alternative. The 1,500-strong CNG stations network in the country currently serves about 32 lakh gas-based vehicles.
The Working Group on Biofuels, set up under the National Policy on Biofuels 2018, is in the process of finalising a pan-India pricing model for Compressed Bio-Gas.
The entrepreneurs would be able to separately market the other by-products from these plants, including bio-manure, carbon-dioxide, etc., to enhance returns on investment.
The National Policy on Biofuels 2018 emphasises active promotion of advanced bio-fuels, including CBG. The Government of India launched the GOBAR-DHAN (Galvanising Organic Bio-Agro Resources) scheme earlier this year to convert cattle dung and solid waste in farms to CBG and compost. The scheme proposes to cover 700 projects across the country in 2018-19. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has notified Central Financial Assistance (CFA) of Rs. 4 crore per 4,800 kg of CBG per day generated from 12,000 cubic metres of biogas per day, with a maximum of Rs.10 crore per project. (1 Crore = 10,000,000)