The Union government's green energy push is yielding results with a total of 198 ‘waste to wealth’ plants being set up so far this fiscal, giving a big push to the cow dung and other wastes generated in the agriculture and allied sectors.
The 198 plants include 12 compressed biogas (CBG) plants and 186 biogas plants. Further, 556 plants are under construction stage which include 129 CBG plants as well as 427 biogas plants.
In the Union Budget 2023, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced 500 new 'waste to wealth' plants for promoting a circular economy with a total investment of Rs 10,000 crore under the GOBAR-Dhan scheme.
Of these plants, 200 will be compressed biogas plants, including 75 plants in urban areas, and 300 will be community or cluster-based biogas plants.
CBG — a biofuel — is produced from biomass sources like agriculture residue, cattle dung, sugarcane press mud, municipal solid waste, sewage treatment plant waste, etc.
The biogas is purified to remove impurities such as hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, water vapour and compressed as CBG, which has more than 90 per cent methane content.
Further, CBG is exactly similar to the commercially available natural gas in its composition and energy potential. With similar calorific value and other properties similar to CNG, compressed biogas 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.
This explains why the government has been prioritising development of CBG plants in the country as it would reduce its dependence on imports of natural gas.
The government has been pushing for increased production of CBG and its blending with natural gas, particularly in the transportation segment that uses compressed natural gas, or CNG, as a fuel.
"Presently we are importing around 50 per cent of our requirement of natural gas. The speedy expansion of CBG will help in meeting our additional requirement from domestic resources," Union Minister for Petroleum Hardeep Singh Puri said.
The Union Budget 2023 also announced introduction of a 5 per cent CBG mandate for all entities marketing natural and biogas in India. This may mean that such companies will have to market CBG to the extent of 5 per cent of their volumes.
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