BioMass Energy is far better than Solar Energy


The government has taken a number of important initiatives to accelerate the process of development and deployment of renewable energy in the country. However, solar energy will occupy a predominant share (100 GW) of the projected total of renewable energy (175 W) by 2022. Solar energy has advantages like zero carbon emissions and plenty of scope due to geographical location of the country. But solar power generation depends upon costly technological inputs. India-made solar photo voltaic cells and modules suffer from cost disadvantage as compared to imported alternatives. And, as the. recent WTO verdict on Indian government’s decision to favor domestically manufactured cells and modules shows, developed nations will thwart any further attempt to incentivize indigenous manufacturing of technological equipment. Moreover; it requires a whopping sum, of p to dollars 100-140 billion, to’ generate 100 GW of solar power.

India is the fifth biggest generator of e- waste in the world and the e- waste generated from the photo voltaic modules and cells would be another headache to Intend with.

Biomass based energy generation is advantageous because ·the disadvantages associated with solar power generation like the menace of e waste genera- n and disposal and· requirement of costly technological inputs are relatively absent, Technology inputs and processes required in this case are widely used pyrolysis or gasification are widely used in India. This obviates the need of technology dependence upon other nations which chill be good for the trade balance.

Moreover, unlike solar and wind, biomass is a more reliable source of renewable energy and is relatively free of rapid fluctuations. Capital cost associated with plant ranges from Rs. 5 crores per mw. So the effective investment for biomass based electricity generation is 18 times less than that required for same units of solar energy generation.

Thousands of tons of biomass being generated in cities has not received adequate attention. Only agricultural residues have received little attention for energy generation. Agricultural residues, leaves and twigs of plants and trees, livestock excrements, flower garlands of holy temples among others are the resources which must be used toothier full potential for energy generation. Setting up of biomass plans would help make use of that material which, in case of business-as-usual, would be burnt or allowed to rot thereby adding to the greenhouse gases and pollution. Moreover, the biomass in the form of leaves and flowers, if not collected properly, lodges itself into the storm water drains and severely impacts as city’s drainage system of a city.

Biomass based energy will certainly help in meeting the goal of electivity to all. As some 18000 village habituation still remain unconnected to electricity supply, bio mass based generation of electricity could provide off grid decentralized power to these habitations. Employment generation is another advantage one should see in this. One 10 MW biomass based power plan provides employment to 100 workers for 18 months during construction, full time employment to 35 for maintenance and 35 persons for collection, storage and processing. Establishing these plants near rural habitations can thus be an integral part of state’s attempts to achieve inclusive growth. In addition, water requirement is six times less than coal powered thermal power stations a great advantage in a water stressed country like ours. It can also give birth to a chain.

chain of entrepreneurs-among the locals for secured and sustained fuel supply. Biochar, the byproduct after power generation, can also be sold back to farmers either for’ use as kitchen fuel or for enriching the soil before the next sowing. Biomass based energy potential of the country is 16,000 MW and it remains highly underutilized at this moment — total power generation by utilizing bio- mass stands at one-thirds only. Even the projected increase in the share of. biomass based generation of power — 10,000 Mw by 2022 — falls very short of the true potential in the country.

Biomass is not the preferred renew- able energy source till now. This is mainly due to the challenges involved in ensuring reliable supply chain of the raw material. These challenges may primarily be due to inadequate information on biomass availability, absence of organized formal biomass markets, and problems associated with the management of biomass collection, transportation, processing and storage.

Biomass from agriculture is available only for a short period ‘after its harvesting, which means two to three in a year Another challenge relates to the cost of biomass storage and transportation to power plants, which is consistently rising with time.

India needs robust institutional and market mechanism for efficient procurement of the required quantity of biomass within this stipulated short time and its safe storage till it is finally used. The size of a biomass power plant size is often driven by biomass availability in close proximity as transport costs play a key factor in the economics. It has to be noted, however, that rail and especially shipping on waterways, when fully developed, can reduce transport costs significantly.  

In tandem, strategies should aim at motivating rural entrepreneurs to take up the supply of biomass to processing facilities. There is also the need to develop and exploit energy plantations aiming to take up energy crops on marginal and degraded land, many states with agriculture based economy, despite good biomass power potential, have been unable to utilize the opportunity. In north India, only Uttar Pradesh has utilized a large part of its biomass potential. This is largely due to the sugarcane industry with cogeneration power plants. There is also wide variation in tariff for biomass power plants in different states.

Government policy can play a big role in enhancing the Viability of biomass power plants and in supporting investment growth in the biomass power sector in states with potential.


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