As the world’s second-largest producer of agricultural products, there lies much untapped potential for India to convert its agricultural residue to renewable energy via biomass-based power plants. In 2014, the government of India set the target for an additional 175 GW of renewable energy generation capacity by 2022, of which 10 GW is expected to come from biomass-based power generation.
At present, there is approximately 6 GW of biomass-based power generation capacity installed in India – only a third of the potential 18 GW of generation capacity estimated by its Ministry of New and Renewable Energy Resources, based on the volume of agricultural residue reported. The state of Madhya Pradesh has a rich variety of available biomass and is estimated to be able to support 3100 MW of biomass-based power generation, of which only 44 MW has been realised.
The performance of existing biomass-based power plant projects suffers from the lack of readily available supply due to seasonal harvests and limited storage options. As a result, most agricultural residue is disposed of through burning, releasing pollutants into the environment and creating health and safety hazards for the local farmers and communities. Poor perceptions surrounding the bankability of previous biomass-based power projects, have also limited access to mainstream financing for the development of biomass-based power plants.
Through the Jabalpur Biomass Power project, InfraCo Asia aims to support the development of India’s biomass-based power generation sector by modelling efficient biomass resource development and supply chain management. The Project will be implemented in accordance with international quality standards for environmental, health and safety practices. Successful implementation of the project is expected to renew interest in the biomass-to-power sector, and spur private sector investment in the development of biomass-based power plants.