Bamboo based bio-refineries

Context: National Thermal Power Corporation, the largest power-generating utility in India, and Chempolis India, a leading Finnish bio-refining technology provider, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to explore the feasibility of setting up a Bamboo-based Bio-Refinery in Bongaigaon, Assam. 

Major Highlights

  • Chempolis will work with NTPC to conduct the feasibility study for the project which shall utilize bamboo for the production of 2G Ethanol, Bio-Coal for thermal power plant & other value-added products. 
  • The proposed Bio-Refinery is planned as an integration project with NTPC Bongaigaon Power Plant, where all utility requirements such as steam, power, etc., shall be supplied from the power plant and the Bio-Coal produced by the Bio-Refinery shall partly replace coal in the power plant, effectively converting 5% of the generation of the power plant to green. 
  • Significance: The project will support NTPC’s decarbonization efforts, create job opportunities and build a sustainable model by promoting the use of locally available resources. 

What is a Bio-Refinery? 

  • Biorefineries are processing facilities that convert biomass to energy and other value-added products such as biofuels, biochemicals, bioenergy/biopower, and other biomaterials. 

National Policy on Biofuels

  • The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas published the “National Policy on Biofuels” in 2018, which was further amended in June 2022.
  • The policy’s objective is to reduce the import of petroleum products by fostering domestic biofuel production. 

Salient Features of the National Policy on Biofuels

  • Oil Companies shall sell Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) with a percentage of ethanol up to 20% throughout the country from 01st April 2023.
  • A target of 20% blending of ethanol in petrol is proposed by Ethanol Supply Year (ESY) 2025-26.
  • An indicative target of 5% blending of biodiesel in diesel /direct sale of biodiesel is proposed by 2030. 
  • The Policy categorises biofuels as:
    • Basic Biofuels” viz. First Generation (1G) bioethanol & biodiesel
    • “Advanced Biofuels” – Second Generation (2G) ethanol, Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) to drop-in fuels
    • “Third Generation’’ (3G) biofuels, bio-CNG etc. to enable the extension of appropriate financial and fiscal incentives under each category.
  • It expands the scope of raw materials for ethanol production by allowing the use of Sugarcane Juice, Sugar containing materials like Sugar Beet, Sweet Sorghum, Starch containing materials like Corn, Cassava, damaged food grains like wheat, broken rice, Rotten Potatoes, unfit for human consumption for ethanol production.
  • It allows the use of surplus food grains for the production of ethanol for blending with petrol with the approval of the National Biofuel Coordination Committee.
  • With a thrust on Advanced Biofuels, the Policy indicates a viability gap funding scheme for 2G ethanol Bio refineries of Rs. 5000 crores in 6 years in addition to additional tax incentives, and a higher purchase price as compared to 1G biofuels.
  • It encourages the setting up of supply chain mechanisms for biodiesel production from non-edible oilseeds, Used Cooking Oil, and short gestation crops.
Source: PIB

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