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Bio Energy: Transitioning to a Sustainable Tomorrow

Bio energy may be seen as one of the many diverse resources available to help meet our demand for energy. It is a form of renewable energy derived from organic materials that were living until recently known as biomass, which can be used to produce transportation fuels, heat, electricity and other products. It is a versatile renewable energy source and is commonly derived from plant and algae-based materials that may include crop waste, forest residue, purpose-grown crops, etc.

Bioenergy can be produced in various forms, including biofuels for transportation, biogas for heating and electricity, and biomass for heat and power generation. The aim of the bioenergy sector is to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and mitigate the impacts of climate change. Bioenergy technologies are considered to be an important part of a comprehensive strategy for transitioning to a low-carbon energy system.

Importance of Bio Energy in the Indian Context

India accounts for ~18% of the world’s population but produces only 0.6% of the world’s natural gas and 0.4% of crude oil. India imports 83.6% of its crude oil requirement and 47.2% of its natural gas requirement. In the past 5 fiscal, the import bill for these commodities stood at $119.2 billion. With the burgeoning urban population, this import dependence on energy is only going to increase.

This is precisely where bio energy comes into the picture. It has the potential to push the country towards energy independence while helping it tackle environmental degradation without compromising on the growth potential. The government aims to make the country carbon neutral by 2070 and reduce emission intensity by 45% of the 2005 levels by 2030. This would only be achievable by bringing bio energy to the forefront of India’s energy scenario.

The strategy to promote bio energy in the country should include adopting appropriate financial and fiscal measures periodically to support development and promotion of bio energy applications and their utilisation in different sectors. This will include policy formulation to build a nurturing environment for the sector with focus on enabling PPP initiatives and private participation.

Biogas Potential in India

India has the potential to become a biogas powerhouse given the staggering influence the agriculture sector has on its economy. Indian biogas market is expected to grow from $1.47 billion in 2022 to $2.25 billion in 2029, logging a CAGR of 6.3% between 2022 and 2029. Despite Covid-19 that dented the sector’s growth, it has shown good recovery. It is expected to continue on the upward trajectory with large investments coming in from big conglomerates, both Indian and international, government PSUs and entrepreneurs.

Biogas can offer a multi-pronged solution to the problem of India’s waste management and act as a catalyst to other industries, driving wider economic growth. The fuel, when purified to remove hydrogen sulfide (H2S), carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor and compressed as compressed biogas (CBG/ biomethane), which has methane (CH4) content of more than 90%, can be a viable replacement for CNG, thus, promoting energy security.

Action for the future: Developing the Bio Energy Sector

While the bio energy sector has been showing impressive growth, more work needs to be done to bring it to a level that can bring about significant change for both India’s economy and environment.

  1. Investment in Research and Development: Investing in research and development of new and improved bioenergy technologies is essential to make the sector more efficient, cost-effective, and scalable.
  2. Expansion of Production: The production of bioenergy needs to be expanded in order to meet the increasing demand for renewable energy. This can be done by building new bioenergy facilities, retrofitting existing ones, and supporting the growth of small-scale bioenergy projects.
  3. Encouraging Adoption: Governments and private organizations can encourage the adoption of bioenergy by providing incentives, subsidies, and education to help raise awareness about the benefits of bioenergy.
  4. Addressing Barriers: Barriers such as lack of access to financing, technical expertise, and infrastructure need to be addressed in order to facilitate the growth of the bioenergy sector.
  5. Promoting International Cooperation: International cooperation is crucial for the growth of the bioenergy sector, as it can help to share expertise, technology, and best practices, and provide access to new markets.

By taking these actions, the bioenergy sector has the potential to play a significant role in meeting the world’s growing energy needs while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting sustainability.

For more information read the CII – CRISIL report “Bio energy: Transitioning to a sustainable tomorrow