Waste to Energy
Recently, a Workshop on “Waste to Energy” – Swachchata Se Swachh Urja was organised by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy as a part of “Swachchata Hi Sewa” campaign.
There is a huge amount of waste generated in a country and there is an urgent need to convert the waste into energy. Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is planning to install a number of plants to convert these wastes into energy. A framework will be worked on for energy thus generated by these plants and subsequently rates will fixed for them. Citizens will also be educated on effective waste management so that it would be easier for the industries to process the waste. An effective waste management will help in creating a cleaner and greener India.
The focus is on energy generation from urban, industrial and agricultural waste/residues, municipal solid wastes, vegetable and other market wastes, slaughterhouse waste and industrial wastes and effluents. These initiatives will not only support generation of energy from the waste but also help in reducing pollution. It will also address the issue of burning of paddy straw by producing bio-CNG.
Three major waste to energy projects of 52 MW, based on Municipal Solid Waste(MSW) have already been installed and running successfully in Okhla, Ghazipur and Narela-Bawana in Delhi which help in converting solid waste to electricity.
In addition, under Swachcha Bharat Mission, about 40 projects with installed capacity of 344 MW supported by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs are under various stages of commissioning.
In Uttarakhand, a new biofuel conversion plant piloted in Kashipur can convert all kinds of agricultural waste into bioethanol. This unique technology has many benefits over other biofuel plants that convert sugarcane or corn into biofuel. At this plant, agricultural waste is converted into ethyl alcohol or bioethanol – which can be used as biofuel, to replace imported fuel.
Agricultural waste is a by-product that is used in some places as fodder for animals. But a majority of farmers do not realize potential of agricultural waste — the waste is thrown into ditches and fire set to it. This practice only adds to air pollution and is harmful for the environment in general.
Ethanol production from natural materials isn’t a novel concept in itself. Before this, technology to convert sugarcane and corn maize into ethanol existed. This kind of ethanol is called first generation ethanol (1G ethanol). Converting agricultural waste into ethanol is a fairly new technology – and this ethanol is called second generation or 2G ethanol.
Currently, the total capacity of 1G ethanol plants installed in the country comes up to only 2.5 billion litres of fuel production. Oil-based industries, on the other hand, have a demand of 5 billion litres annually. But the answer isn’t to build more 1G ethanol plants. Ultimately, such an increase to meet the demand would impact the sugar market, livestock that depend on bagasse (the leftovers after extracting sugarcane juice) for food, and land used for sugarcane production. But 2G ethanol comes from agricultural waste – which is available in plenty and is a natural by product that does not need to be specially produced. This is the best example of recycling and reusing, and there’s no need to burn away more waste.