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Reliance Industries Aims to Tackle Air Pollution with Bioenergy Push

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Reliance Industries, led by Chairman Mukesh Ambani, is taking a step towards addressing the serious air pollution issue faced by many Indian cities, particularly during winters due to stubble burning. Reliance Industries’ ambitious plan to establish 100 compressed biogas (CBG) plants across India presents a potentially groundbreaking solution to the nation’s air pollution woes, particularly the wintertime issue stemming from stubble burning. While the initiative’s success hinges on various factors, it represents a significant step forward and warrants closer examination of its potential impact.

At the company’s annual general meeting (AGM) in August 2023, Ambani announced plans to accelerate the deployment of bioenergy projects. This includes establishing 100 compressed biogas (CBG) plants across India within the next five years. Highlighting the severity of the problem, Ambani emphasized that India generates around 230 million tonnes of non-cattle feed biomass, most of which contributes to air pollution.

Also, read India’s Sun Shines Bright as Renewable Energy capacity hits 188 GW.

Addressing the Root Cause: Stubble burning, the practice of burning agricultural residue after harvest, is a major contributor to air pollution in northern India. This practice, while seemingly beneficial to farmers for clearing land for the next sowing season, releases harmful pollutants like particulate matter (PM2.5) into the atmosphere, significantly impacting air quality and public health.

CBG: A Sustainable Solution: Compressed biogas (CBG) offers a compelling alternative. Produced from organic waste sources like agricultural residue, municipal waste, and sugarcane press mud, CBG provides a cleaner burning fuel option with several advantages. It reduces dependence on fossil fuels, mitigates greenhouse gas emissions, and offers a valuable source of organic manure as a byproduct.

Scaling Up for Impact: Reliance’s commitment to establishing 100 CBG plants across India within five years signifies a significant scaling-up of efforts. This rapid expansion holds the potential to:

  • Reduce reliance on stubble burning: By providing farmers with a viable economic alternative for managing agricultural residue, CBG production can incentivize them to adopt more sustainable practices.
  • Mitigate carbon emissions: As Ambani highlighted, these plants are projected to mitigate nearly 2 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually, contributing to India’s climate change goals.
  • Promote waste management: Utilizing organic waste for CBG production offers a sustainable solution for waste management, addressing another critical environmental challenge.
  • Boost energy security: By reducing dependence on imported LNG, Reliance’s initiative can contribute to India’s energy security and self-reliance.

Demonstrating their commitment, Reliance has already commissioned its first commercial-scale CBG plant in Uttar Pradesh. Ambani further stated their intention to rapidly expand to 25 CBG plants across the country.

These 100 CBG plants are projected to:

  • Consume 5.5 million tonnes of agricultural residue and organic waste
  • Mitigate nearly 2 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually
  • Produce 2.5 million tonnes of organic manure every year
  • Reduce India’s LNG imports by approximately 0.7 MMTPA

Reliance has also set up two demo units for CBG production in Jamnagar, Gujarat.

CBG, produced from sources like sugarcane press mud, municipal waste, and agricultural waste, offers various benefits:

  • Contains 40% carbon dioxide and 60% methane
  • Can be used to produce green hydrogen as an alternative to piped natural gas
  • The bi-product, manure, can be utilized as fertilizer

This initiative by Reliance Industries holds the potential to contribute significantly to improving air quality and promoting sustainable energy practices in India.

Challenges and Opportunities: While the potential benefits of Reliance’s bioenergy push are promising, challenges remain. Establishing and operating such a large network of CBG plants requires significant investment, infrastructure development, and efficient logistics for feedstock collection and distribution. Additionally, ensuring the economic viability for farmers and the overall sustainability of the process throughout the supply chain will be crucial factors in the long-term success of this initiative.

PG

Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to greensneha@yahoo.in

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