Compressed Biogas: Opportunities Galore for India's Agriculture Industry

Vinod Paremal
Vinod Paremal
Biogas Cycle
Biogas Cycle

India, an economy dominated by agrarian activities, almost has a contribution of 16% to the GDP from agriculture and engages roughly 58% of the population. It is also estimated that the waste generated from the Indian Agriculture Sector can have a total contribution of 18,000 MW of power every year, in addition to yielding green fertilizers which is a common use of these wastes.

The immense potential of these wastes lies in producing energy in the form of biogas, syngas, electricity, and much more. In its roadmap to achieve Energy AtmaNirbhar, the Government of India has launched multiple schemes for the optimal conversion of waste to energy.   

The SATAT initiative - Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation, by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoPNG) envisages production of Compressed Biogas (CBG) from biowastes or biomass such as agricultural residue, cattle dung, sugarcane press mud, Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) and Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) wastes. The fact that India is actively looking to cut down its energy export dependence by almost 10% in the coming few years, CBG is a relevant renewable energy source that can help in realizing this vision. Natural gas imports also stand to benefit by responsible and sustainable disposal of agricultural waste, thus moving towards a Circular Economy.  

The agriculture industry and the large number of wastes that it produces can start looking at being a part of the SATAT initiative, as it serves myriad purposes for them, which might still be unknown to many. Agriculture wastes can be used to produce compressed biogas for revenue out of waste instead of being burned or unprocessed disposal. The sludge remaining in the CBG plant as a by-product can be also sold as a good quality bio-manure, thus providing additional revenue sources from the CBG plant.

The Delhi government has reiterated that stubble burning is a substantial source of pollution in the winters and has stressed waste to energy projects as a solution. The shift towards these projects can not only ensure proper waste disposal but also provide alternate revenue sources and an expanded scope of operation for the agriculture sector.  

The advent of newer technologies has also ensured better quality of biogas production sustainably. SEPURAN® Green, a membrane separation technology by Evonik, ensures quality biomethane production. These technologies also ensure minimal wastage of the gases and lead to a better quality of the CBG produce. 

CBG plants under the SATAT initiative have strong support from the Government, from financial support through loans, or aid during construction, etc. The SATAT initiative underlines India’s focus on moving towards a clean energy ecosystem, one where sustainable alternatives to fossil fuel could meet the ever-increasing demands of a rapidly growing economy. Under the SATAT scheme, the government looks to establish 5000 CBG plants, with a total of 12 plants already commissioned and LoI’s for 1550 plants being distributed. 

One cannot hide the potential elevation the agriculture sector in India can have in its revenue if it opts for alternative ways of disposing of wastes. The holistic environment of agriculture waste management from the production of primary products like CBG as well as bio-manure, hydrogen, and carbon dioxide, all with their own market can lead to a tremendous increase in farm revenues and help the rural economy of India undergo a revolution.

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