[Answered] What is bioenergy? Discuss how bio-energy can help in meeting India’s energy demands.

Demand of the question Introduction. What is bioenergy? Body. Discuss how bio-energy can help in meeting India’s energy demands. Mention various government efforts in reaping bioenergy. Conclusion. Way forward.

Bioenergy is renewable energy made available from organic materials derived from biological sources. It is the energy derived from biomass such as bagasse, cotton stalk, coconut shell and wood, plants, etc. With global warming and growing concerns biomass can play a vital role especially in rural areas.

Bio-energy role meeting India’s energy demands:

  1. Energy demand: Bioenergy can help to meet the growing demand for energy within
    the country, especially in rural areas. Nearly 25% of its primary energy comes from biomass resources and close to 70% of rural population depend on biomass to meet their daily energy needs. Biomass can further help in meeting rural energy demands.
  2. Climate change mitigation: Bioenergy provides important benefits compared to fossil fuels, in particular regarding GHG emissions. Biomass recycles carbon from the air and spares the use of fossil fuels, reducing the additional fossil carbon from the ground into the atmosphere. 
  3. Market growth: The market for renewable energy systems in rural and urban markets in India is set to grow exponentially. Despite this, bioenergy does not figure in most energy studies and is classified as ‘non-commercial’ energy. Plants like Jatropha, Neem and other wild plants are identified as the potential sources for biodiesel production in India.
  4. Waste to energy: Biofuels can augment waste to wealth creation. Being a derivative of renewable biomass resources such as plastic, municipal solid waste, forestry residues, agricultural wastes, surplus food grains etc. it has huge potential to help the country achieve the renewable energy goal of 175 GW.
  5. Income generation: Adopting biofuels as an alternative source of energy can significantly improve farmers’ income, generate employment opportunities etc.
  6. Reduce imports: India’s energy demands met by imports are about 46.13% of total primary energy consumption. Bioenergy can help in reducing these imports and boost India’s energy security and self-reliance.

Various government efforts in reaping bioenergy:

  1. 10 GW national target: Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has set the national target is to achieve 10 GW of installed biomass power by 2022.
  2. National Policy on Biofuels: The policy is aimed at taking forward the indicative target of achieving 20% blending of biofuels with fossil-based fuels by 2030.
  3. Policy for biomass and bagasse cogeneration: MNRE has further developed a policy for biomass and bagasse cogeneration that will help in meeting India’s energy demands. It includes financial incentives and subsidies, both for biomass projects and sugar mills that use this technology.
  4. Fiscal Incentives: Government gives 10 years Income tax holidays. Concessional customs and excise duty exemption for machinery and components for initial setting up of Biomass power projects. General sales tax exemption is available in certain States.
  5. Waste to energy projects: Waste to energy projects are also being set up for generation of energy from urban, industrial and agricultural waste such as vegetable and other market wastes, slaughterhouse waste, agricultural residues and industrial wastes & effluents.
  6. National Biomass Repository: MNRE also plans on creating a ‘National Biomass Repository’ through a nation-wide appraisal program which will help ensure availability of biofuels produced from domestic feedstock

Way forward:

  1. Utilising wastelands: There are about 63 million ha waste land in the country, out of which about 40 million ha area can be developed by undertaking plantations of Jatropha.
  2. Reducing capital costs: Efforts must be made for reduction in the capital cost of biogas plants, development of materials and techniques.
  3. Institutional support: Establishing institutional support for programme formulation and implementation is important to utilise established energy mechanisms.
  4. Development of second-generation bi-fuels: Government must support and promote development of second-generation bio-fuels and related applications.
  5. Establishing standards: It is important to lay down standards for various bio-energy components, products and systems.

Biomass in Indian energy matrix is very important for remote villages. Even with decades of experience in managing biomass power, still there exists lots of gaps in the supply chain. The main scope for interventions are in collection, improving design and engineering aspects, conducting feasibility studies and focused research and development.

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