IEEFA report identifies biogas solutions for India

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The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) has released a report looking at a possible solution for India's energy security and decarbonisation goals.
Produced in a positive policy environment, where the Indian government has introduced several changes to accelerate growth and investments in the biogas sector, the report outlines the country's renewed interest in biogas and biofuels.
For example, there was a recent announcement to set up 500 new Waste-to-Wealth plants under the Galvanising Organic Bio-Agro Resources Dhan (GOBARdhan) scheme.
Similarly, the Ministry of Jal Shakti recently launched a unified portal to make registering biogas projects easier.
The report said: "We estimate that replacing natural gas consumption with biogas and biomethane incrementally to 20% by 2030 can help India cut liquefied natural gas (LNG) import bills by US$29 billion between the fiscal year (FY) 2025 and FY2030, taking a compounded annual growth rate of 22% in the natural gas sector and based on the assumption of 550 million standard cubic metres per day (MSCMD) of gas consumption in 2030 and varying import prices for each year based on the Japan Korea Marker price forecasts."
However, only 48 compressed biogas plants have become operational under the SATAT scheme, instead of the 5,000 target.
According to the report, this is because the sector lacked a comprehensive market ecosystem in terms of pricing and offtake, and did not have the right incentive and systems for obtaining clearance, with permissions being complicated.
The disaggregated nature of government support meant that multiple departments had different schemes in place, resulting in implementation gaps for the sector. This was addressed in 2021, as all types of assistance fell under the National Bioenergy Scheme umbrella.
Another major challenge in deploying biogas is the varying feedstock and its availability in a usable form, according to the report.
This calls for biogas feedstock mapping of agriculture and industrial waste to which biogas plants or CBG plants can be linked.
There is also a need to shift from capital expenditure (CAPEX)-based incentives to generation-based incentives to ensure the operability of biogas plants.
Encouraging the participation of private players in the sector will enable robust market development with minimum government support, said the report.
"The government is showing clear intent to develop the biogas sector," it said. "Policymakers still need to fill gaps to create a comprehensive market system for the smooth operability of the sector in India. The government needs to encourage increased investments and private participation in the sector. It can increase the market viability of CBG and biogas slurry, ensure increased financial access for developing biogas plants and feedstock mapping to ensure the availability of inputs."

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