From religion comes a man’s purpose; from science, his power to achieve it.
-Sir William Henry Bragg, Physicist, Mathematician, Sportsman
Scientists have rightly emphasized the presence and significance of religion in different eras and how they have contributed in the evolution of human intelligence. For centuries, cattle have been considered sacred in religions such as Hinduism, Jainism, and Zoroastrianism. Earlier religions in Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, and Ancient Rome also held similar beliefs. Their mentions in Hindu mythology can be dated back to the Vedas (Rig Veda, Artharva Veda). Moreover, there is no question about the tangible benefits that we have been deriving out of cattle directly and/or indirectly, like dairy products, biofuel, etc. In particular, one of the revolutionizing studies was that of generating energy out of (cattle) excreta. In fact, other biomass resources such as agriculture wastes and other organic wastes have been crucial energy sources as well for the mankind since the dawn of civilization.
The energy requirements of an agile developing nation are tremendous and ever increasing. The challenge faced by the industry is that biogas, containing mainly methane, cannot be stored easily. Besides, biogas has 60-65% methane, 35-40% carbon dioxide, 0.5-1.0% hydrogen sulphide, rests of water vapors etc. as composition. Unlike LPG, biogas cannot be converted into liquid form under room temperature and pressure. In order to reduce compression, storage and transportation cost and to enrich biogas, Carbon Dioxide, Hydrogen Sulfide, and moisture is removed.
A new initiative was taken during the year 2008-09, for demonstration of Integrated Technology-package, in entrepreneurial mode, for installation of medium size mixed feed biogas fertilizer plants (BGFP) for generation, purification/ enrichment, bottling and piped distribution of biogas. Installation of such plants aim at production of CNG quality of Compressed Biogas (CBG) to be used as vehicular fuel in addition to meeting stationary and motive power and electricity generation needs in a decentralized manner through establishment of a sustainable business model in this sector.
In March 2011, the first biogas bottling project in India was sanctioned to Ashoka Biogreen Pvt. Ltd. of capacity 500 cubic meter/day (with 98% methane purity) at Village Talwade, Nashik (Maharashtra) after obtaining license for filling and storage of compressed biogas in CNG cylinders from Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization (PESO). On a per day basis, 27 cylinders of 8kg are filled.
Production of biogas is a clean as well as low carbon technology project. It has the potential for leveraging sustainable livelihood development while tackling local and global land, air and water pollution. It is a versatile fuel as it can be used for thermal applications, power generation and as an automobile fuel.
The renewable industry can’t win by over-relying on subsidies to make itself viable in the long term. This sector requires relentless detailed innovation in terms of manure content, fodder quality for cattle so as to generate good quality biogas (enriched with methane). We need to address challenges like long-term integration cost and high capital investment to provide renewable energy options a broader claim in the mix of power generation.