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October 31, 2023 @ 7:30 am - 11:30 pm


The Indian government has recently introduced significant policy changes aiming to augment the growth and investments in the biogas sector, signifying a renewed emphasis on biofuels. These initiatives encompass various schemes, a global alliance, and incentives to boost biogas production and utilization.

What is biogas?

Biogas is a renewable energy source produced through the anaerobic digestion of organic waste materials, such as agricultural residue, animal manure and food waste.

First-generation biofuels: are produced from biomass of food crops or edible energy crops such as sugarcane, corn, barley or canola. While these have well-established processes, technologies and markets, it is pertinent to note that they have lead to indirect land use changes which have intensified carbon emissions instead of lowering them.

Second- and third-generation biofuels: are referred to as advanced biofuels and are made from lignocellulosic biomass or non-edible byproducts of food crops or agricultural residue and waste. Third-generation biofuels are in a nascent stage and produced from microorganisms like algae.

Biogas Production and Utilization

Biogas Composition and Production Methods:

  • Biogas comprises 45% to 75% methane and is primarily produced through biodigesters or biogas plants.
  • Alternative methods of biogas production include landfill gas recovery systems and sewage sludge from wastewater treatment plants.
  • Methane content can be heightened through the removal of CO2 and other impurities, producing biomethane (over 90% methane) for various applications.

Global Biogas Potential and Cost Comparison:

  • The International Energy Agency estimates significant biomethane production, equivalent to 20% of global natural gas demand, with a global average production cost at US$19 per mBtu.
  • The comparison of biogas costs against natural gas prices during volatile periods showcases its potential cost-effectiveness, especially during price hikes in natural gas.

Methane Emissions and Monitoring:

  • Emphasis on the potential global warming impact of methane, necessitating the implementation of effective processes during biogas production, upgradation, and supply to prevent methane leakages.
  • A call for the adoption of lifecycle analysis, methane emission detection systems, and harmonization of emission quantification protocols for improved monitoring and reduced emissions.

Biogas Application in Cooking, Power, Transport, and Fertilizer Production:

Adoption of biogas in cooking can address health and environmental issues in rural India, but barriers such as cost, lack of awareness, and government support hinder its widespread use.

Biogas can be employed for power generation, but the Waste-to-Energy program faces challenges in cost-effectiveness due to unsegregated waste and electricity distribution issues.

Utilization in the transport sector, primarily as Compressed Biogas (CBG), is slow, with the need for increasing production and efficient blending with the existing gas distribution network.

Biogas application in fertilizer production holds promise, especially in substituting LNG in fertilizer plants and using biogas residue as organic fertilizers, with financial assistance to encourage farmer usage.

Versatile Application of Biogas:

Biogas can be used for cooking, heating, and lighting, while upgraded biogas, often referred to as biomethane or renewable natural gas (RNG), can serve as a pipeline-ready gas, suitable for various natural gas applications.

It can be compressed and transported in cascades or cylinders similar to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or as a substitute for compressed natural gas (CNG).

Challenges in Feedstock Availability:

A significant challenge in deploying biogas lies in the availability of varied feedstocks. Individual households may not generate sufficient waste for biogas production, necessitating the use of community or cluster plants.

Addressing feedstock challenges requires clear policy directions, pilot projects, set targets, and private sector participation to ensure a stable source of raw materials.

Feedstock Requirements:

The feedstock requirement for biogas and Compressed Biogas (CBG) varies depending on the source, with different materials such as agriculture residue, pressmud, sewage sludge, and cow dung having distinct requirements.

Understanding these requirements is essential for effective biogas production.

Environmental Benefits and Resource Utilization:

Biogas production has the potential to address multiple environmental problems, including pollution from stubble burning, overuse of landfill sites, and disposal of sewage sludge in rivers.

For example, agricultural residue can be used to produce substantial amounts of CBG, reducing waste and contributing to electricity generation and cooking needs.

Impact on Natural Gas Consumption:

The implementation of 5,000 proposed SATAT biogas plants could potentially surpass the current gas consumption of the City Gas Distribution (CGD) sector, which was about 33 million standard cubic meters per day (MSCMD) in recent years.

As gas consumption is expected to increase in the coming years, the shift to biogas or CBG could lead to significant savings in natural gas import bills.

Potential Cost Savings:

By gradually shifting 10% of natural gas to biogas or CBG in FY2025 and increasing to 20% by FY2030, significant cost savings are achievable.

A compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22% in the natural gas sector could lead to savings of US$28.9 billion between FY2025 and FY2030, reducing the reliance on expensive LNG imports.

Policy Initiatives Driving Biogas Growth

E20 Implementation and GOBARdhan Scheme:

  • The introduction of E20 – a 20% ethanol blend in gasoline from this year, aiming for E20 across all petrol by FY 2026.
  • Announcement to establish 500 new Waste-to-Wealth plants under the GOBARdhan scheme, focusing on organic waste.
  • Ministry of Jal Shakti’s unified portal simplifies registering biogas projects, serving as an information hub.

Global Biofuel Alliance:

  • India also announced the Global Biofuel Alliance as one of the top priorities of its G20 Presidency. The alliance, proposed by India, was launched on 9 September 2023, along with leaders from Singapore, Bangladesh, Italy, the United States of America (the U.S.), Brazil, Argentina, Mauritius and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
  • Collaboration with the U.S. and Brazil to form the Global Biofuel Alliance facilitates knowledge exchange and technology sharing.

Obstacles Hindering Biogas Sector Growth

Market Ecosystem and Clearances:

  • Lack of a comprehensive market ecosystem in terms of pricing and offtake impeded the sector’s growth.
  • Complex clearance systems and incentive programs from multiple ministries created implementation gaps.

CBG Uptake Challenges:

  • Scarce guaranteed offtake for Compressed Biogas (CBG) hampers private sector involvement, requiring mandated procurement to boost interest.
  • Varying feedstock availability poses a challenge, requiring feedstock mapping and generation-based incentives for plant operability.

Government Interventions and Future Focus

National Bioenergy Scheme and GOBARdhan:

  • Bundling different assistance programs into the National Bioenergy Scheme for streamlined promotion.
  • GOBARdhan as an overarching initiative to promote waste-to-biogas conversion.

Private Sector Encouragement:

  • Encouraging private investments and market viability by ensuring guaranteed offtake and financial accessibility.
  • Enhanced participation of private entities like Reliance and Adani could bolster the sector’s growth.


While the Indian government has shown promising intent in developing the biogas sector, the creation of a comprehensive market system and increased private involvement is crucial for its successful operation in the country. Encouraging investments and guaranteeing offtake will be fundamental for a thriving biogas sector.

Mains Question:

  1. India’s biogas sector has seen considerable policy initiatives in recent times. What are the key challenges impeding the sector’s growth, and how can these challenges be effectively addressed to ensure a successful and sustainable biogas industry in the country? (150 Words) 10M


October 31, 2023
7:30 am - 11:30 pm
Event Category: