Biogas in India: Open-field rice-straw burning causes air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions (7,300 kg carbon dioxide equivalent per hectare), soil nutrients and biodiversity losses, and health hazards.

An amount of 731 million tons of straw is produced globally, out of which India contributed around 126 million tons, and 60 percent of them are burnt on fields. Straw now becomes a waste subjected to burning because of technical, structural, institutional and socio-economic challenges. However, straw can be sustainably used to make biogas, biofuel, biochar and compost.

Energetic use in solid digestion biogas plant

With about 300 million animals, India has the largest cattle population in the world. So many animals naturally produce large amounts of dung every day, that could potentially represent a reliable source of energy, but has not served this purpose so far.

Biogas is the magic word. In India, animal excrement are already used on small scale projects to generate #energy, mostly through liquid fermentation. The process requires an important amount of water and damages the groundwater level, especially during the dry season.

A water saving alternative is the so-called solid matter / dry digestion, which is still hardly known in India for biogas production. For this reason, REPIC is currently supporting the installation of a solid waste digestion plant in the Patiala region, in the North of the country.

Rice straw field and stubble burning in India

As a pioneering biogas project in India, a solid matter fermentation plant is being installed on a dairy farm. The cow dung is broken down into biogas, and the farmers can use the fermentation residues as fertilizer. The biogas is processed locally into bio-CNG (90-95% methane) and bottled. The main advantage of the process is that the plant requires hardly any water. Potentially, the technology also enables the energetic use of leftovers from rice harvest. Until now, farmers would usually burn these residues, which results in soil damages.

This biogas project in India has several advantages:

  • Access to cheap and clean energy
  • Conservation of water resources
  • Better air quality and hygiene standards
  • Obtaining a valuable fertilizer and compost product

We implemented the biogas project in India in close cooperation with the Indian partner “Cities Innovative Biofuels Ltd”.

biogas dry anaerobic digestion in Punjab India, straw burning