Biomass Waste Management

Let’s convert liability of today to asset for tomorrow….

Biomass, which is essentially trees and grasses as well as forestry and agriculture waste, is burned as a source of both heat and electricity all over the world.

Scenario of Biomass Waste in India

Position of Biomass Waste utilization in India

The Government has been implementing the biomass power and cogeneration program since 1994. In the last 14 years or so, just about 4 per cent of the total estimated potential has been realized so far that too at low efficiency outcomes.

The growing O&M costs and stagnant tariffs have made biomass power development financially unviable for the developers. As a result, despite the country having a biomass potential of 8,000 MW; the current installed capacity for the same stands way below – only 1050 MW. Even pelletization has been ruled out by experts as unviable. Also, various methods of collection, compression and processing have not been encouraging so far.


Boilers are designed depending on the selection of biomass type. The boiler once designed for particular type of one or two or multiple biomass will not perform efficiently if other type of biomass is used.

Out of 540 million tonnes of residues from agriculture, forestry, agro-based industrial plants and plantations, only 140 million tonnes of usable agro industrial and agriculture residue is available for power generation or any other use. Rest of the waste is used as fodder. Also, the availability of biomass depends upon the season when crops are to be grown.

In the initial stages of plant installation, the agro-residue was considered as waste and was thus available at throwaway prices with landed price of about INR 500-1,200 per tonne. However, in recent times (last 4-5 years), biomass prices have gone up very rapidly, upto 2500-3500 per tonne.

Biomass power plants are relatively less capital-intensive but need a huge working capital owing to the manpower -intensive nature of the operations and substantial fuel cost requirement. Biomass prices fluctuate widely due to their seasonal availability. Hence, huge working capital investment is required to procure and store large quantities of biomass during the season.

No structured market is available for meeting the demand of a biomass based energy industry. This means that the biomass fuel is outside the purview of regulatory control with prices varying seasonally and within regions. Further, since much of the biomass fuel is agricultural residue, its quality depends on the cropping pattern which is again seasonal and variable.

Unlike Municipal Solid Waste Government Agencies do not encourage or spend money or encourage any biomass waste collection.

These factors make it difficult for biomass energy applications to secure investments. Thereby, a concerted effort to help structure the traditional market into a modern commercial system is needed.

What needs to be done..?

• Government bodies/ Agricultural Ministry/ Rural development agencies have to be roped in to organize biomass waste collection market.

• Proper consideration/charges to be provided to farmers as per their land and produce, at the same time to ensure that no extravagant demands are raised from farmers side as well.

• To ensure proper storage of the biomass waste as all crops are seasonal. Also, cow dung from rural and urban areas to be made part of bio-mass as it is available throughout the year.

• Pilot projects should be setup to encourage to get best possible output by using biomass as raw material.

• Grants to be given for development and scalability of technologies under Make in India campaign.

• Companies that can Indianize and commercialize International technologies/products should be encouraged and brought into play to ensure effective cost management of best technologies from across the globe.

• Minimum use of biomass for power generation should be done as power tariffs in India are becoming very competitive.

New Technologies and Solutions available

  • For compression, latest techniques are available that can compress material from 70-80 kg/m3(conventional system) to 600-750 kg/m3 (available latest solutions). This can reduce transportation costs largely.
  • Biomass can be mixed to get specific and better outputs. Higher efficiency can be achieved by proper mixing of different raw material.
  • Further using various processes bio-mass can be converted to green fuel that is directly a replacement to coal. We can call it sulphur-less coal as well.
  • Even for enhanced storage-processes like surface binding can be done and can result into better results.
  • Even organic treated waste mixed with biomass waste can be used to produce green fuel.
  • Biomass like coconut shell made products have huge international markets.
  • Liquid extracted from cow dung can be processed into liquid fertilizers of best quality.