Biomass energy refers to the direct burning of wood, waste paper, manure, agriculture or converting them into a fuel by certain micro-organisms when they digest them in the absence of air. They produce either alcohol or methane gas, which themselves give energy on combustion. Since biomass is obtained through the process of photosynthesis, therefore it is considered to be another form of indirect use of solar energy.

Biomass Power Conversion Technology

  • Biomass power conversion technology convert renewable biomass fuels to heat and electricity using processes similar to those employed for fossil fuels.
  • At present, the primary approach for generating electricity from biomass is combustion i.e., direct-firing, and the combustion systems of this power plant are similar to most fossil-fuel fired power plants.
Biomass Power Conversion Technology

The parts labels in the picture depicts:

1. Energy from the sun is transferred and stored in plants. When the plants .are cut or die, wood chips, straw and other plant matter is delivered to the bunker.
2. This is burned to heat water in a boiler to release heat energy (steam).
3. The energy/power from the steam is directed to turbines with pipes.
4. The steam turns a number of blades in the turbine and generators, which are made of coils and magnets.
5. The charged magnetic fields produce electricity, which is sent to homes by cables.

Biomass Energy Programmes in India

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has taken up following programmes for meeting the rural energy needs:

1. Biogas Development Programme
2. National Programme on Improved Chulhas
3. Integrated Rural Energy Programme (IREP)
4. Village Energy Security Programme (VESP)
5. Remote Village Electrification Programme (RVEP)
6. Urjagram

1. Biogas Development Programme

The programme consists of:

(i) National Project on Biogas Development (NPBD)

This project was started in 1981-82 with the following objectives:

  • Mitigating the drudgery of rural women.
  • Providing fuel to rural household for cooking purpose.
  • Organic manure for application in agricultural fields.
  • Reducing the pressure on forest.
  • Recycling human waste by linking toilets with biogas plants, thereby improving sanitation.

(ii) The Community and Institutional Biogas Plants Programme

This programme was started in 1982-83 with the following objectives:

  • To recycle human waste through linking of community and institutional toilets with biogas plants for improving sanitation.
  • To provide benefits of biogas technology to weaker section of the society.
  • To recycle organic wastes for harnessing fuel-gas at community and institutional levels for various usages.

(iii) Research and Development in Biogas Sector

This project includes minimizing the capital cost of biogas plants, development of materials and techniques, which are amenable for local level fabrication to reduce the time of installation.

  • It provide studies in the field of microbiology, biochemistry and engineering for increasing the biogas field by at least a factor of two, especially at low and high temperatures.

2. National Programme on Improved Chulha

This programme was started in the year 1986-87 with the following objectives:

  • Conversion of fuel wood and other biomass.
  • Check on deforestation, and environmental protection.
  • Reduction of health hazard and cooking time and provides employment opportunities to rural people.
  • More than 30 models of durable fixed with chimneys and portable improved chulhas are available for family communities and commercial applications.

3. Integrated Rural Energy Programme (IREP)

The programme was conceptualized during 6th Five Year Plan and launched as centrally sponsored scheme in the 7th Five Year Plan with the following objectives:

  • Provision of the most cost effective mix of various energy sources and options for meeting the requirements of sustainable agriculture and rural development by giving due weightage to environmental consideration.
  • Development of capabilities in States / UTs for preparation and implementation of Block level energy plans and projects.

4. Village Energy Security Programme (VESP)

  • The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has started the Village Energy Security Programme for villages which do not have access to grid connectivity.
  • In this programme, all energy needs of villagers such as domestic, commercial, agricultural, and industrial sector will be met by local available biomass sources of energy.
  • MNRE provides Central Financial Assistance (CFA) of 20000/ per household for 50-400 households in a village.
  • This programme is run by implementing agency such as forest departments, departments of rural development, reputed and recognized NGOs, and cooperatives societies.

5. Remote Village Electrification Programme

  • The Remote Village Electrification Programme (RVEP) aims to provide basic facilities of lighting/ electricity in those remote unelectrified census villages where grid connectivity is either not feasible or not cost effective.
  • The need of electrification to be fulfilled through various renewable energy sources including biomass.

6. Urjagram

  • Urjagram is a project which aims to make remote and far flung rural areas self sufficient in energy through locally available renewable energy resources such as solar energy, bio-energy, wind energy etc.
  • The energy produced can be used not only for domestic needs but also for agriculture operations, cottage industry, etc. In Urjagram, a community biogas plant may be there.

Advantages of Biomass Energy

  1. The biomass power plants ensure a continuous supply of energy due to their continuous growth.
  2. The cost of obtaining biomass energy through energy plantation is less than the cost of obtaining energy from fossil fuels.
  3. Energy produced by biomass can be easily stored.
  4. These units can be established easily in rural areas.

Limitations of Biomass Energy

  1. Relatively low concentration of biomass per unit area of land.
  2. Collection and transportation of biomass is expensive due to high moisture content.
  3. Cost of energy production in urban areas is high with the centralized power generation stations.
  4. Relatively large land area is required, hence this method cannot be used in areas where land cost is very high.
Biomass Energy & Biomass Energy Programmes in India

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