With an investment of Rs 2.20 billion (€27.4m), the plant is being set up by Germany-based Verbio AG's Indian subsidiary. It aims to reduce 1,50,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year, by utilizing crop residue (straw) to produce biogas and manure.
The project is the first to give a fillip to the ex-situ management of crop stubble in Punjab and stop farmers burning it to prepare them for the following wheat season.
“We have tied up with farmers to procure crop residue, which can go up to 1,00, 000 tonnes of paddy straw in a year. This will prevent reduction in straw burning on 40,000-45,000 acres of land,” Ashish Kumar, managing director of Verbio India, told The Tribune. Verbio will be producing 33 tonnes of compressed biogas (CBG) and 600-650 tonnes of fermented organic manure per day. The CBG produced will be supplied to 10 outlets of Indian Oil Corporation.
The state government recently prepared a policy for ex-situ management, and was given the go ahead by the Commission for Air Quality Control in September. The state government also formed a task force for seamless implementation. The intention is to utilize 2.10 million tonnes of the total 18.32 million tonnes expected paddy straw production this year through ex-situ and raise it to 4.88 million tonnes by 2023-24.
Ashish Kumar said that though some entrepreneurs are setting up CBG units in Punjab, it would be helpful if the commercial offtake of CBG is mandated for various companies. Officials said that the Agriculture Department in the state is already working on this. Kumar said he hopes that a system to earn carbon credits, too, is put in place soon.
Three years ago, the state government, in an affidavit to the Centre, had said the only option they had for stubble management, was in-situ management. This was done in order to get the Central assistance for the crop residue management by giving hundreds of stubble management machines to farmers on subsidy. However, for better management of stubble, the AAP government decided to also go in for ex-situ management.
As many as 41 CBG plants are already in different stages of being set up in the state. Among them, five are in Ludhiana and four each are coming up in Jalandhar, Bathinda and Gurdasapur. Three projects each are also coming up in Moga and Hoshiarpur.
Officials say that they have already tied up with City Gas Distribution Company (through GAIL) for off-take of CBG through their CNG pipeline.