Punjab to convert stubble into biomass fuel

The Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA) in association with the Government of Punjab, is soon coming up with an alternative for paddy stubble utilisation. Stubble burning is one of the biggest problems in north India to curb this, the Punjab government’s own agency; PEDA is playing a stellar role in weeding out the problem indigenously.

What is the problem?

Stubble which is a residue left out of the paddy and wheat field is normally burnt in the field itself. This stubble burning brings a lot of environmental problems as well as health problems. In Punjab itself, around twenty million tonnes of paddy stubble is generated out of these only five per cent are used in a cleaner way for generating biofuel or environmentally friendly usage rest are burnt in the field. This burning is one of the biggest cause of pollution and smog in Delhi. Apart from this the stubble burning also reduces soil fertility and the heat from the burn kills the bacteria and reduces the moisture of the soil.

What is the solution offered by the agency?

PEDA, which is a state nodal agency is working towards the promotion and development of renewable energy for more than the last thirty years. The agency has set up 11 biomass power plants where 97.50 megawatts (MW) of power is generated. In these plants, less than 5 per cent of the total 20 million tonnes paddy stubble which is around 8.80 lakh metric tonnes of paddy stubble, is used annually to generate power. Most of these plants are 4-18 MW and are consuming 36,000 to 1,62,000 metric tonnes stubble annually.

Plans ahead

Apart from the aforementioned plant, two more biomass power projects with 14 MW capacity are in pipeline and will start working completely from June 2021. These 14 MW plant will also require 1.26 lakh metric tonnes paddy stubble per annum for operation. These biomass power projects are environmentally friendly due to relatively lower CO2 and particulate emissions and also displace fossil fuels such as coal which is very beneficial for the environment.