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A SATAT Strive for Clean Energy: Momentum in Compressed Bio-Gas Sphere

Compressed Bio-Gas

On Friday, 27 November 2020, Minister for Petroleum & Natural Gas and Steel Dharmendra Pradhan today laid the foundation stone for the Leafiniti Bioenergy’s CBG plant in Bagalkot, Karnataka. This provides an opportunity to take a look at the momentum being generated in the sphere of Compressed Bio-Gas (CBG) sphere.

We recently discussed how India is steering towards becoming a gas-based economy with a special thrust on LNG, CNG and piped cooking gas connections, the details of which you can read in our article 50 LNG Fuel Stations Along the Highways – A Journey Towards Gas-Based Economy.

The efforts in the direction of CBG may also be viewed as a small but important element of this move towards a gas-based economy. To understand how an action plan is being unveiled in this direction, one need to refer an initiative that was launched in 2018 and known as SATAT. It stands for Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation.

What the SATAT Initiative Strives For?

Under SATAT, PSU Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) invited Expression of Interest (EoI) from potential entrepreneurs to set up Compressed Bio-Gas (CBG) production plants and make available CBG in the market for use in automotive fuels.

The government proposed to set up 5,000 CBG plants over a period of five years starting from 2018. A production offtake guarantee is being given for such plants. Letter of intent for 600 CBG plants have already been given and with the recent signing of MoUs for 900 plants, a total of 1,500 CBG plants are at various stages of execution. The potential for Compressed Bio-Gas production from various sources in India is estimated at about 62 million tonnes per annum.

How is Bio-Gas Produced?

Bio-gas is produced naturally through a process of anaerobic decomposition from waste/bio-mass sources like agriculture residue, cattle dung, sugarcane press mud, municipal solid waste, sewage treatment plant waste, etc. After purification, it is compressed and called CBG, which has pure methane content of over 95%. Compressed Bio-Gas is exactly similar to the commercially available natural gas in its composition and energy potential.

The Advantages That CBG Brings

The carbon emission from the bio-fuel is negligible in comparison to fossil fuel. Thus, it will help India in fulfilling commitment to COP-21 in order to mitigate climate change.

Since SATAT uses agricultural, municipal wastes to produce gas, it will help farmers with an extra income and also serves the purpose of Swachh Bharat. Compressed Bio-Gas can be produced from various bio-mass/waste sources, including agricultural residue, municipal solid waste, sugarcane press mud, distillery spent wash, cattle dung and sewage treatment plant waste. The other waste streams, i.e, rotten potatoes from cold storages, rotten vegetables, dairy plants, chicken/poultry litter, food waste, horticulture waste, forestry residues and treated organic waste from industrial effluent treatment plants can be used to generate biogas. Thus, its immense utility in waste management and environment protection is a big plus for the initiative SATAT.

Beyond this, it paves the way for entrepreneurs to emerge. Compressed Bio-Gas plants are proposed to be set up mainly through independent entrepreneurs. CBG produced at these plants will be transported through cascades of cylinders to the fuel station networks of OMCs for marketing as a green transport fuel alternative. The entrepreneurs would be able to separately market the other by-products from these plants, including bio-manure, carbon-dioxide, etc.

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