Paddy stubble to drive bio fuel production in Punjab, Haryana
Farming in Punjab and Haryana produces 30 million tonnes of paddy stubble every kharif season. Most farmers burn this crop residue as there is no cheaper way of clearing the fields. But this practice, and the criticism that it is leading to health...
Farming in the two states produces 30 million tonnes of paddy stubble every kharif season. Most farmers burn this crop residue as there is no cheaper way of clearing the fields. But this practice, and the criticism that it is leading to health emergencies, could soon ebb as work on the planned ethanol and bio-CNG plants has picked up pace.
“Detailed design and engineering work has been completed for four commercial-scale smart bio-refineries being set up by oil marketing companies,” Pramod Chaudhari, executive chairman of Praj Industries, told ET.
Praj Industries is the main technology provider for second-generation ethanol to Indian companies including IOC, BPCL, HPCL and MRPL. It is working on the four-integrated commercial-scale smart biorefineries based on in-house 2nd-generation technology to convert biomass to ethanol.
“The company has already received orders for critical equipment for two bio-refineries and the plants are likely to come into operation by the end of 2021,” Chaudhari said. “By developing the bio-refinery model, we also encourage private investors to set up such projects in India,” he said. IOCL and HPCL are setting up bio-refineries in Haryana and Punjab, respectively.
“Around five lakh tonnes (500,000 tonnes) of paddy straw would be utilised in four different projects and produce 11 crore (110 million) litres of ethanol per annum,” Chaudhari said.
While the authorities double their effort to discourage stubble burning, the policy initiatives announced by the government, such as offer of Rs 46 per kg of CNG made from paddy stubble and subsidy of Rs 7 crore for a paddy straw-based project, is catalysing investments.
“The tariff and subsidy makes biofuel projects lucrative investments prospects,” said Sanjeev Nagpal, managing director of Chandigarh-based Sampurn Agri Ventures, which runs the only functional paddy straw-based CNG plant in the country.
Companies including Mahindra & Mahindra subsidiary Swaraj Tractors and Germany-based Verbio Vereinigte Bioenergie AG are in process of setting up bio-CNG plants in Punjab. “Verbio is in advance stage of setting up the plant and is likely to commence production by next year,” Devinder Singh, joint director, Punjab Energy Development Agency, said.
“The states need to fix minimum support price of paddy stubble and assure farmers of a long-term buy-back agreement,” Chaudhari from Praj Industries said, adding that the task of collecting agriculture waste will help create employment for hundreds of rural people, which in turn will help create a ‘sustainable’ revenue model for farmers, rural economy and ethanol manufacturers.