Utilization of biomass for producing power is being proved most promising through the installations of biogas plants in rural areas of India. Earlier, biomass has been a major source of rural pollution. It has been proved to be a major source of carbon dioxide emission through burning of crop residues by farmers in fields. Farmers have been facing problems of its disposal since all of the biomass has been felt difficult to compost. Installation of biogas plants and biomass based power plants in some states of India has come as a boon to farmers.
The aim of the Punjab Government to make the state power surplus by installing a number of biomass based power plants is undoubtedly a pioneering effort towards pollution control, energy conservation, energy generation and employment that can be copied by other states of the country.
In order to transform agriculture residue into power and to provide employment and additional income to villages, Punjab state of India has planned the installation of 30 Biogas based power plants in the state. One out of these plants was inaugurated at Muktsar by Mr. Faruq Abdullah, the Union Minister of New and Renewable Energy on 19 February 2010.
The Government of Punjab is reportedly aiming to make the state a power surplus within the next two years. The installation of the plant at Muktsar is viewed as a revolution by the ministers as it converts agriculture residue into much needed power along with providing employment to the rural youth. The agricultural residue earlier has been a potential cause of different types of pollution in every way. Now that most of the agricultural residue is to be consumed by biomass based power plants the pollution through these can be permanently eliminated with maximum benefits in the energy and employment sectors. It is reported that the plant has been installed with an investment of Rs. 80 crore and is aimed to produce 14.5 MW of electricity along with providing employment to over 700 youth.
Mr. Sukhbir Singh Badal, the Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab has expressed that installation of 50 more biomass based power plants in the near future may transform the state into a power surplus entity. Mr. Badal has been reported by The Hindu in its February 19, 2010 issue to say - “Our promise to make Punjab a power-surplus State will be a reality thanks to these plants, which will solve many problems at once. This plant would purchase agricultural waste worth over Rs.30 crore from the villages in its 40-km radius, giving additional income and employment.”
Mr. Badal added that besides starting work on four super thermal plants with a combined generation capacity of 6,500 MW, Punjab is targeting to generate 700 MW power from renewable sources by 2011 coupled with saving 1,700 MW from converting all light connections to power-efficient CFL.
“The State of Punjab gives subsidies amounting to over Rs.3,500 crore each year to farmers, which will be saved if renewable sources of energy provide the much needed electricity which provides water to the agricultural lands. We have launched pilot projects which test the transformation of solar, wind and watermill energy and to electricity for agricultural purposes,” said Dr. Abdullah.
Punjab produces over 20 billion tonnes of agricultural residue every year, which can produce over 1,000 MW power from agro-waste alone.
A Biomass based Power Plant
The plant uses agricultural wastes and produces none itself. Inputs like cotton and rice husk, cow-dung, straws and stalks of paddy, cotton and wheat produce electricity. Its by-product, fly-ash, is used to make bricks which are used in construction.
Key Words: Biomass,pollution, emission, biogas, Punjab,electricity,energy generation,