The Punjab Government said that the collaboration will enable the state to effectively manage five lakh tonnes of paddy straw annually, transforming it into clean energy.
Just as the entire North India plains have turned into a gas-chamber owing to farm fires post paddy cultivation, the Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA), a state-owned entity, has entered into an agreement with GAIL (India) Limited to establish 10 compressed biogas projects and other ventures related to new and renewable energy in the region.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was formalized through the signatures of PEDA CEO Amarpal Singh and GAIL (India) Executive Director RK Singhal.
Aman Arora, the Minister of Punjab’s New and Renewable Energy Sources (NRES), emphasized that this collaboration will enable the state to effectively manage five lakh tonnes of paddy straw annually, transforming it into clean energy. Given Punjab’s agrarian nature, Arora highlighted the substantial potential for crop residue-based Compressed Biogas (CBG) plants and credited the state government’s business-friendly policies for facilitating industrial establishments.
Ravi Bhagat, the NRES Secretary, anticipates that the implementation of these 10 projects will prevent the burning of paddy straw in approximately 1.25 lakh acres, contributing to environmental sustainability. Moreover, he emphasized the positive impact on rural employment, with around 50 entrepreneurs expected to be engaged in supplying paddy straw to these plants, creating jobs for over 500 individuals.
GAIL’s Singhal provided details on the CBG projects, indicating an investment of approximately Rs 600 crore, with an annual production capacity of 35,000 tonnes of biogas and 8,700 tonnes of organic manure. He emphasized the potential of these initiatives to address environmental concerns, particularly in North India, where heavy air pollution, exemplified by high Air Quality Index (AQI) readings, is a persistent issue attributed to post-harvest farm fires in Punjab.
Adding to the context, recent data from the Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation portal and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy revealed that India had commissioned 58 compressed biogas plants with a total capacity of 271 tonnes per day by March 31. The Indian Biogas Association reported 50 lakh small biogas plants in the country.
Over the past years, the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency has been actively supporting biogas and waste-to-energy projects through loans.