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Fuel Alternatives

Under its Ethanol Blended Petrol programme, the Centre is targeting 20 per cent blending of ethanol with petrol by 2025.

For the same, it inaugurated the Indian Oil Corporation Ltd’s (IOCL) 2G (second generation) ethanol plant in Panipat in August and the plant is expected to be operational soon. It will process 2.1 lakh metric tonnes (MT) of dry rice straw annually, converting it into 3 crore litres of ethanol — a biofuel derived mainly from rice, corn and sugar.


The power ministry's policy on 'Biomass Utilization for Power Generation through Co-firing in Coal-based Power Plants' issued in October 2021 mandates all thermal power plants in the country to use 5 to 10 per cent biomass along with coal for power production. 14 NTPC plants have already started co-firing and approximately 77,000 tonnes of biomass has been co-fired to date.


Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT) was launched on 1st October 2018 aiming to establish an ecosystem for the production of Compressed Bio Gas (CBG) from various waste/biomass sources in the country.

Under the same initiative, Asia's largest Compressed Bio Gas plant was inaugurated in Sangrur in October this year.

This plant is estimated to consume 100,000 tons of paddy straw, which will be procured from 6-8 satellite locations within a 10 km radius of the plant.

These programmes seem to be a win-win solution on paper that both provides us with clean energy and deals with air pollution by curbing stubble burning, but it isn't devoid of its fair share of problems.

Aggregating rice straw and transporting it to the plant is bound to be and is a mammoth operation, and unsurprisingly the supply chain logistics are still all over the place as the companies are finding it difficult to generate adequate and consistent feedstock.

A system of collectivism can overcome this problem. To increase their bargaining power and lower their land cost and initial capital expenditure, we intend to help farmers organise themselves into collective units, popularly called Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs). By coming together, they can streamline the supply-chain issues as well.


We also believe that making Farmer Cooperatives or Private Enterprises the single point of contact (SPOC) for the power plant to purchase Parali could also overcome many roadblocks, as could allowing purchases of Parali to be used towards CSR activities for power plants.

Pelleting/ Briquetting

The value of loose biomass doubles when it becomes a briquette which is another biofuel substitute for coal and charcoal. Statutory directions have already been issued to thermal power plants to co-fire biomass-based Pellets, Torrefied Pellets/Briquettes (with a focus on paddy straw) with Coal (up to 5-10 percent) and to industries operating in NCR other than GNCT of Delhi to switch over to PNG or biomass fuels during 2022. The government has also declared to offer aid to set up paddy straw pelletization, and torrefaction plants and released guidelines for the same in October. These guidelines are expected to bridge a crucial gap in the biomass supply chain as despite a large demand for biomass-based pellets, supply has been on the lower side due to the slow and limited growth of aggregators and suppliers.


It must be noted that a briquette machine costs somewhere around Rs 25 lakh, not to mention the cost of maintenance and labor. We believe bringing about a subsidy akin to that provided by the Punjab government for happy seeders and super seeders (50 percent to individual farmers and 80 percent to farmer cooperatives) should be considered. We also intend to ensure that the government looks to make areas available at the panchayat level to make briquettes and store parali, briquettes, pellets, char, etc.

Parali to Power

Power Plants

  • Thermal plants across Punjab can use piles of crop stubble and pellets as fuel to generate electricity. 

  • The Centre and the state governments announced a mandatory requirement of power generation using agro-waste to 10% of total consumption. 

  • Parali’s calorific value is 13-14 MJ/kg. Compared to 14.2-15.5 MJ/kg for Grade-13 Coal and 30 MJ/kg for Grade-1 Coal


This option is not widely used yet as there is 

  • Low awareness that power plants can buy stubble

  • Lengthy coordination with power plants

  • Standard procurement procedures are missing for power plants

  • Long wait for stubble to be picked. This can delay farming for the next crop.



  • Create awareness about Power Plants Buying Stubble among farmers.

  • Lay down stubble quality metrics for purchasing (based on calorific content, moisture etc).

  • Facilitate Bailing of Stubble.

  • Facilitate transport of stubble to power plants.

  • Cost of Coal landed in Punjab is about ₨ 5000 per ton (Rs 5/kg) with a gross calorific value (GCV) of 4000 KCal (16.8 MJ).This compares favourably with the price of Parali 3200 KCal (13.5 MJ). 

  • At Rs 2/kg at farm and with Rs1/kg transport cost, parali will be delivered at site for Rs 3/kg.

  • Give Power Plants instructions that they are responsible for stubble in an area of 10-20 km radius around the power plant (This is an area of 1.75 lakh acres, producing about 5 Lakh tons of parali).

  • Additionally tie in power plants in Neighbouring areas (Haryana and Rajasthan) to stock Parali for Burning in Coal plants.

  • Make Farmer Cooperative or Private Enterprises as single point of contact (SPOC) for the power plant to purchase parali.

  • Allow purchases of Parali to be used towards CSR activities for power plants.

  • For 10% mandatory biomass, Give a target of 340 Tons of parali per MW of plant capacity. 

  • 1 MW Thermal Power Plant @59% load factor generates 1000*24*365*59% = 5.17 Mn KwH/ MW/ yr.

  • At 40% Thermal Efficiency, 1 MW plant uses 5.17/40% = 12.92 Mn KWH of Fuel/ MW/ year      = 46.5 Mn MJ of Fuel/ MW/year

  • Of this 10% can be biomass : 4.65 Mn MJ of Parali / MW/ year

  • At 13.5 MJ/Kg of Parali this is: 340 Tons of Parali / MW / year.

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