Biomass offers huge potential, can help meet growing energy demand: MP Singh, Director, PEDA

M P Singh

When we look at new scenarios emerging in the low carbon and renewable energy technologies, it is important to look at the regional resources available.

For a country like India, the biomass resources are very huge. It’s not present just in Punjab, but in other nine states too as per the data analysis carried out by the ministry of new and renewable energy. Today, Biogas offers huge potential and we are blessed with very good sunshine, so we do not need to heat the digesters, which other cold climate countries need to do.

In Punjab, we are currently looking at the possibility of having more renewable power projects which can help us deliver 24/7 power. In addition to this, we also have a 2G ethanol project which is put up by Hindustan petroleum and will be commissioned next year. Not surprisingly, 2G ethanol at this moment is quite costly in terms of commercial viability, but biomass has immense potential for future emerging technologies.

The long term idea should be to interlinked the power grid with the gas grid because of the intermittency in power and once the higher percentage of renewables enter the network, it will be difficult to manage the energy supply efficiently. Currently, many states in the southern part are witnessing lots of Gigawatt capacity projects coming in and much of the power is getting through the open access route and are being exported to many other states.

The future challenge of reaching 500 gigawatt of renewable energy and the current renewable purchase obligations which have now been notified by the ministry of power is going to touch around 45 percent by 2030. At present, only 21 to 27 percent of renewable purchase obligations are being met. So, doubling that will definitely be an issue with DISCOMs and such issues are already emerging in Punjab and other states as well.

The fact is we can store power but we can store gas, so it has become imperative and crucial to intermix power grids with the gas grids.

The energy transition has to happen in the industry, and also in the commercial sector which is quite important from net neutrality point of view.

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I strongly believe the regulatory mechanism must flow in as it is mostly missing in the renewable sector especially in the compressed biogas space. We don’t have any pricing mechanism as we see in other sectors like electricity. So, there should be some check and balance in this sector as well. Safety standards are totally absent today in the hydrogen industry. Therefore, in this moment of transition, rather than immediately jumping to hydrogen, we should look at the intermittent local low hydrocarbons.

Initiatives for promotion of EV are being taken in our state, and currently we are working under the ministry of power program along with Bureau of energy efficiency, a lot of awareness is being created and the state is notifying the draft of e-mobility.

Adoption of personal EV vehicles is also being adopted at the personal level and incentives are being provided to them. In the long-run, there will be a competition between green hydrogen, and compressed gas along with the battery technologies. Therefore, I believe, hydrogen or compressed biogas would be a viable form of energy in terms of using green transport and green technologies.

Views expressed by MP Singh, Director, Punjab Energy Development Agency