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Government to prepare a national bio-energy mission to boost power generation from biomass

According to reports, the government is preparing a national bio-energy mission to boost power generation from biomass, a renewable energy source abundantly available in India.

The mission, to be launched during the 12th Five-Year Plan, will offer a policy and regulatory environment to facilitate large-scale capital investments in biomass-fired power stations, Minister of New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah said. It will also encourage development of rural enterprises.

“Our surplus biomass is estimated to be 150 million tonnes,” Abdullah said on the sidelines of an event. “This could potentially be used to generate 16 giga watt of power.”

Biomass is derived from agriculture, animal and human waste. It can be harnessed to produce fuel, power and heat.

The national mission will aim at improving energy efficiency in traditional biomass consuming industries, seek to develop a bio-energy city project and provide logistics support to biomass processing units. It will also propose a GIS-based National Biomass Resource Atlas to map potential biomass regions in the country.

Abdullah said power projects based on biomass could generate employment in rural areas, besides helping in the stabilisation of electricity grid.

Nearly 70% of the country’s population lives in villages with marginal access to electricity.

Currently, India has a total installed capacity of 3,000 MW of biomass-based power generation. The ministry of new and renewable energy is targeting to double this capacity during the 12th Plan (2012-17).

According to some estimates, biomass from agro and agro-industrial residue can potentially generate 25,000 MW of power in India. This can be further raised with wasteland-based integrated energy plantation and power generation systems.

The bio-energy mission will adopt a two-phase approach, spanning the 12th Plan in Phase 1, and the 13th Plan in Phase 2.

There will be an evaluation of progress and review of capacity in the middle and end of each Plan. Targets for subsequent phases will be set based on the emerging cost and technology trends, both domestic and global.

According to the ministry, each MW generated from biomass plants would be able to cover about 6,000 rural households. The ministry has earmarked 3,400 crore for the various incentive schemes under the biomass mission.

“Availability of feedstock is a problem,” said Sanjay Chakrabarti, partner and national cleantech leader at Ernst and Young. “But, I feel biomass will be having much more potential for non-grid based power generation and ensuring rural electrification.”

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