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Published:Tuesday, January 08, 2019 12:21 PM

Green Transport Fuel: Compressed Bio Gas

Green Transport Fuel

India’s recent pollution figures are of huge concern about the declining air quality in the country which also pushes the need for adopting more cleaner and eco-friendly green fuels. Highly toxic gases and particulate matter exhausts from automobiles is making a serious health hazard and effecting the public heath adversely in the country. It is found that the pollution levels in the rural and urban sector has adversely affected the air quality in the metro cities which when mixed with seasonal fog creates a more catastrophic smog resulting many health problems. The need for more cleaner and eco friendly automotive fuel is paramount in present situation where air quality index is declining year by year and no sustainable fuel policy is under implication at present time. Bio fuels, made from organic waste could be the solution for curbing growing air pollution in the country.

India has vast potential to boost the usage of available agricultural residue, cattle dung, and solid waste to produced compressed bio gas which can act as more affordable and cleaner transportation fuel. Bio gas properties are exactly same as of available compressed natural gas in terms of calorific value and energy production potential. It can also be used as an alternative as well as green transport fuel with immense potential to replace CNG in automotive, industrial and commercial usage in the coming years. Recently, oil marketing companies such as IOCL, BPCL, and HPCL have planned to setup compressed bio gas production plants and make available in the market for use as automotive fuel. The use of compressed bio gas would help to reduce India’s dependency on crude oil import and for enhancing rural employment and farming sector income in future.

Production and Technology: Bio gas production utilizes a clean, low carbon emission technology for efficient management and conversion of organic waste into cheaper and cleaner fuel. The feasibility of bio gas conversion into compressed bio gas depends on few key parameters such as environmental, safety, technical, and economical. India generates more than 55 million tons of solid waste every year and has huge potential for generating around 1.7 million tons of compressed bio gas. Waste management in urban and rural is also one of the biggest challenges of the government and becoming a serious issue for government and municipalities to tackle the growing amount of waste. Currently, Government is exploring the feasibility and future potential of the waste to energy sector contributing to economic growth.

As of February 2018, there are 17 operational compressed bio gas plants having biomass treatment capacity of more than 46000 kg /day. Most of these plants are in northern and western regions of India. Currently Maharashtra is the leader in having the largest number of plants and biomass treatment capacity. Gujarat and Maharashtra combined have more than 60% of the country’s total installed compressed bio gas capacity.

State/UT

Capacity (Kg/day)

Number of Plants

Maharashtra

16,659

5

Gujarat

12,538

2

Uttarakhand

5,460

1

Rajasthan

4,024

3

Haryana

2,050

2

Uttar Pradesh

2,000

1

Punjab

1,847

1

Madhya Pradesh

1,200

1

Tamil Nadu

400

1

 

Usage of compressed bio gas requires vehicle technology and refueling station infrastructure. The refueling station of compressed bio gas could be more complicated than the conventional refueling station. Moreover, fuel lines, injector, and regulator are also required to convert conventional vehicle to use bio-CNG. Most of the compressed bio gas plants are planned to be setup by help of independent entrepreneurs. Bio-CNG would be transported in these plants through pipelines from the fuel stations of oil marketing companies.

The cost of production of compressed bio gas is much cheaper when compared with compressed natural gas, diesel, and Petrol. Moreover, CBG (Compressed Bio Gas) can easily replace with conventional CNG which could save around INR 38,000-40,000 Crore of crude oil imports. The selling price of compressed bio gas would remain constant around 48 RS/ KG for upcoming three years starting from 1st October 2018, which is cheaper than CNG. The government has also planned that the price of bio-CNG would be reviewed at the end of every three years.

Government and Oil companies’ initiative: Oil marketing companies have planned to invest 10,000 crores to set up compressed bio gas plants across the country. Government has proposed to roll out around 5,000 compressed bio gas plants in India in phased manner in upcoming 5-6 year with the aim of reaching estimated CBG production of 15 MMT per annum by 2023. In October 2018, the government has launched Sustainable Alternative towards affordable Transportation (STAT) program, which aims towards boosting availability of municipal solid waste, entrepreneurship, employment, developing rural economy as well as addition revenue to farmers. It would also help to achieve climate change goals, integration of city gas distribution with compressed bio gas, and reduce the dependency on crude oil & LNG imports. In April 2018, the government of India has also launched Gobar Dhan scheme to support energy production from waste for promoting cleanliness in rural areas and enhancing the income of rural households. This scheme would help to boost the setup of compressed bio gas plants and help to promote use of bio-CNG across India.

As of now IOCL is focusing to setup compressed bio gas plant in Northern region. BPCL and HPCL would focus in western, southern and eastern region to setup bio-CNG plants. In January 2018, IOCL has signed an agreement with the Punjab and Haryana Governments to promote and set up compressed bio gas plants into their respective states.

Advantage:  The major advantages of converting solid waste into compressed bio gas on industry scale are following below:

  • To bring down dependency on crude oil and natural gas imports
  • To achieve climate change policy goals and create availability of cleaner and cheaper fuel
  • Help to generate additional income source for farmers
  • To boost rural economy and employment
  • Simple and low-cost technology as compared with conventional CNG
  • Reduction in carbon footprint

Key Challenges and opportunities: The installation and waste processing cost of compressed bio gas plant is reasonable, which would influence and attract investors in bio agro business. Unskilled workforce and lack of awareness among people about bio fuels are the major restraints for compressed bio gas business in India. However, the large amount of waste generated in rural and urban along with government initiatives would drive the growth of compressed bio gas market in India. Ministry of Petroleum & Natural gas and Ministry of New and Renewable Energy are also promoting the schemes related to convert waste to energy and providing financial support for industry development and research projects for all the plants. From April 2020, Bharat VI would be mandated to reduce the Sulphur gas emission, which is mostly generated from petrol and diesel engine. Use of CBG in vehicular transportation is more cost efficient as compare to CNG. Large amount waste generated in India is a boon in disguise and it would push people further towards the adoption of bio CNG in the country soon.

 SWOT Analysis

Future potential: Currently, Compressed bio gas is produced from various bio waste sources such as: cattle dung, sugarcane press mud, and agricultural residue. It can be also generated from other waste streams like food waste, rotten vegetables, chicken poultry, and horticulture waste. Integration of city gas distribution and compressed bio gas networks would boost the gas supplies to customer in future and existing gas markets. The compressed biogas could be transported in cylinders to fuel distribution station networks for marketing as a green transport fuel. In the next few years, compressed bio gas could be injected into CGD gas pipelines for distribution and access to cheap, Clean, and affordable fuel.

Conclusion: At present around 83% of the crude oil is imported in India from other countries to meet its growing energy demand. Recent move of using compressed bio gas with conventional natural gas supplies would help in lifting the share of natural gas in the current energy basket from 6% to 15% till 2028-2030. In near future, India would be processing the potential to substitute compressed natural gas by compressed bio gas. In this direction, Oil marketing companies have launched Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation program. Under this initiative, OMC and GAIL have invited expression of interest to procure CBG. India generates a large amount of waste every year, Government and private companies are required to focus on technology development, technology import, and providing financial support to develop public awareness, funding, and technical skills, to setup bio-CNG infrastructure all over the country. The cost of installation machinery and procedure to setup CBG Plant is considerable, which is very limited and feasible. Ghobar Dhan scheme and STAT initiatives would further help to achieve the goal of enhancing rural sector income and producing cleaner fuel. These steps would ultimately improve rural economy and provides a lot of opportunities for employment in rural areas.

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