According to reports, for a country where almost 70% population is dependent on agriculture, it is safe to assume that biomass power generation should be promoted religiously by the policy makers. But, speakers at the ongoing two-day workshop on biomass power generation, here, on Wednesday struck a discordant note while talking about biomass promotion.
Experts and entrepreneurs at the workshop ‘to promote biomass power technologies and identification of pipeline projects’ organized by the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE), UNDP and Global Environment Facility (GEF), cautioned that most of the 10 MW biomass power plants set up in the country in the past few years were on the verge of closing down due to unavailability of a steady supply of feedstock.
They also noted with concern that solar and wind power generation was being promoted at the cost of biomass even though biomass provided more revenue to the rural economy and was considered carbon neutral. Figures provided by V K Jain, director, MNRE, were pointer towards biomass being least preferred as a source of power generation, though, he said the ministry was keen to change the scene.
“The country produces 150 million tonnes of biomass every year from which 16,000 MW of energy can be produced, besides the 5,000 MW energy can be generated through bagasse, (the residue of sugarcane after extraction of juice). So far, we have installed capacity of only 4300 MW, which means this sector has immense, untapped potential,” Jain revealed.
Entrepreneurs who have installed successfully running biomass plants were upset with the regulations that the central and state governments put on such projects which prevent them from becoming popular.
“Issues like giving undertaking about a certain amount of power generation every day, or not getting paid for any extra amount of power generated on a given day can be discouraging especially when the feedstock inflow in unpredictable,” said Dr B C Jain who has set up the country’s first 1.2 MW biogas plant running on gasification technology in village Sankheda.
The biomass power generation scene is no better in Gujarat if figures given by Gujarat Energy Development Agency director D P Joshi are any indication. “Wind power projects in Gujarat produce 3093 MW of power followed by solar power projects at 857 MW. Biomass projects provide 31.2 MW power,” he revealed, adding that three biomass plants of 10 MW capacity each were located at Junagadh, Amreli and Bhavnagar.