According to a report, Mr. Deepak Gupta, Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, said that the government is launching a new policy initiative of small biomass plants of 1 to 2 MW. Another big area is dedicated energy plantations with 1 to 2 MW plants at the tailend. “We have set a target of 10,000 MW in the next 10 years,” he said, adding 2-3 plants have already been commissioned. Besides providing power, this will also promote forests, he said.
Gupta said while in 2002, the share of renewable energy in total energy production was mere 2.5 per cent, it has risen to 26 percent by the third year of the 11th Five Year Plan. “While the current electrical mix is 4.5 percent, we are trying to make it at least 6 percent by 2022 while our vision is 10 percent. This percentage is much more than in either US or China,” he said.
Gupta said the government is promoting a new concept as far as grid power is concerned-that is 500 KW to 3 MW systems which will feed into the distribution grid, reducing transmission losses by 6-7 percent and increasing voltage and frequency performance. “This is an important area for India,” he said.
He said the ministry has already approved a special scheme of 100 Mw for 1 or 2 MW solar power plants. “We hope that all this will be commissioned this calendar year itself,” he said.
Gupta said the government has plans to plans to produce power from rice husk as well and the pilot projects are going on quite successfully. “If we can produce 1000 MW of power from rice husk, it can save 400 million litres of diesel. I am sure we can reduce use of billion litres of diesel annually,” he added.
As Panchabuta has reported earlier, Husk Power Systems (HPS), uses the husk-based gasifier technology to provide electricity using 32 kWe (40 kVA) plants that deliver power on a “pay-for-use’’ basis to households in the rice-producing belt of India at about Rs 2 per day per household, located within a radius of 1.5 km. The charges are such it results in a reduction in the consumption of kerosene by as much as two-thirds. Power is supplied from 5 pm till midnight each day.
Though Panchabuta had discussed in detail about the excellent progress in the biomass targets for the current plan period and provided a detail analysis of the commissioned and under implementation projects in an earlier essay, it is unclear to us on how this target of 10,000MW in 10 years has been proposed by the Secretary and MNRE.
As most biomass developers would acknowledge and as Panchabuta has often repeated, the biggest problem in such projects is the availability of feedstock and usually this varies even within the state and within a particular district this has to be analyzed at a micro market level for the success of the project.
Usually in the concept proposed by Mr. Gupta, the land required is about 400-600 acres per megawatt of biomass power and in certain cases where energy plantation techniques are used they could be brought down to about 200-300 acres.
Given that the identification of such vast tracts of lands in most parts of the country is definitely a challenge, this certainly seems like an ambitious target set by the MNRE for the small biomass projects.