Biomass has always been an important energy source for the country considering the benefits it offers. It is renewable, widely available, carbon-neutral and has the potential to provide significant employment in the rural areas. Biomass is also capable of providing firm energy. Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has realised the potential and role of biomass energy in the Indian context and hence has initiated a number of programmes for promotion of efficient technologies for its use in various sectors of the economy to ensure derivation of maximum benefits Biomass power generation in India is an industry that attracts investments of over Rs.600 crore every year, generating more than 5000 million units of electricity and yearly employment of more than 10 million man-days in the rural areas.
Biomass power & cogeneration programme is implemented with the main objective of promoting technologies for optimum use of country’s biomass resources for grid power generation. Biomass materials used for power generation include bagasse, rice husk, straw, cotton stalk, coconut shells, soya husk, de-oiled cakes, coffee waste, jute wastes, groundnut shells, saw dust etc. The current availability of biomass in India is estimated at about 500 million metric tonnes per year. About 7000 MW additional power could be generated through bagasse based cogeneration in the country’s 550 Sugar mills, if these sugar mills were to adopt technically and economically optimal levels of cogeneration for extracting power from the bagasse produced by them.
Manufacturing capability exists in the country for the equipment/machinery required for setting up Biomass Projects. Except for some critical control equipment, most of the equipments can be procured from indigenous sources. A number of large manufacturers have established capabilities for manufacturing spreader stoker fired, travelling grate/dumping grate boilers; atmospheric pressure fluidized bed boilers and circulating fluidized bed boilers. Due to recent upsurge of interest in co-generation for surplus power, leading manufacturers are further upgrading their capabilities for high efficiency boilers. Almost all combinations – condensing, single extraction/double extraction condensing, back pressure, etc. are now being manufactured in the country with full after sales services. The efficiencies of turbines now being offered are comparable to the best in the world. Many multinational companies have set up manufacturing facilities in the country for such equipment.
The Ministry has been implementing biomass power/co-generation programme since mid nineties. A total of approximately 500 biomass power and cogeneration projects aggregating to 4760 MW capacity have been installed in the country for feeding power to the grid. In addition, around 30 biomass power projects aggregating to about 350 MW are under various stages of implementation. Around 70 Cogeneration projects are under implementation with surplus capacity aggregating to 800 MW. States which have taken leadership position in implementation of bagasse cogeneration projects are Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. The leading States for biomass power projects are Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Tamil nadu.