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Harnessing Bioenergy is Empowering Rural India

The Bioenergy sector in India has the potential to accelerate rural development and create a stronger agricultural economy. On one hand, it will help promote sustainable harvesting practices and also create new avenues for making rural communities independent and self-sufficient.

What is Bioenergy?

Bioenergy is a form of renewable energy. It is obtained by processing loose biomass into various types of fuels or converting it to heat and electricity. Biomass is any material that comes from plants and animals, such as agricultural crop residues, forest residues, wood processing residues, and municipal waste to mention a few.

Bioenergy from Agro-waste for Rural Development and Energy Transition

Agricultural Waste Generation in India

Each year, an estimated 650 million tons of agricultural waste is generated in India. According to a report released by the International Journal of Science and Research, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, and Maharashtra generate the most agro-waste in India each year.

Agri-waste management is quite challenging because of its huge volume and low density making it difficult to move from one place to another. The nature of agri-waste renders it necessary that it should either be used immediately or processed and stored in suitable conditions to avoid spoilage for use at a later time.

Most farmers have no choice but to burn the waste, an easier and more economical way of farm waste management. This practice is quite common despite the negative impact it has on the environment in terms of air, water, and soil pollution, and the long-term changes in the surroundings which also affect the microbial lifeforms.

Energy Generation from Agricultural Waste

India’s efforts in the direction of transitioning from fossil fuels to low-carbon alternatives have gained a lot of momentum in the past two decades. Driven by the need to remedy the negative effects of harmful emissions and reduce dependency on foreign fuels, India is harnessing energy from alternate resources. Bioenergy is one sector where the scope for utilizing agri-waste to produce cleaner fuels needs a push.

India’s Annual Agri-waste Production and Energy Generation Potential

  • Each year, an estimated 650 million tons of agricultural waste is generated in India.

  • As per the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy Resources, the amount of agri-waste generated annually has the potential to generate 24 GW of energy.

  • India currently has 10 GW of biomass-based power generation capacity installed.

  • According to InfraCo Asia, if the installed capacity is fully utilized, agri-waste can bring down the demand for coal by over 250 million tons each year.

How is Rural India Playing a Vital Part in Harnessing Bioenergy

In every harvest cycle, farmers need to deal with crop residue disposal and agricultural waste management. Most small and medium-scale farmers utilize only a part of the agricultural waste generated in the form of animal feed and the rest is burned.