News: The Union Budget 2023-24 has earmarked INR 10,000 crore for establishing 500 new ‘Waste to Wealth ‘plants under GOBARdhan (Galvanizing Organic Bio-Agro Resources Dhan) scheme for promoting circular economy. Of the 500 new plants announced, 200 will be Compressed Biogas Plants (CBG), including 75 in cities and the remaining 300 will be community or cluster-based plants.

 In this context, we will study about Biogas, its advantages and limitations and also government initiatives with respect to tapping Biogas potential.

What is Biogas?
 Biogas is an environmentally-friendly, renewable energy source. It’s produced when organic matter, such as food or animal waste, is broken down by microorganisms in the absence of oxygen, in a process called anaerobic digestion. For this to take place, the waste material needs to be enclosed in an environment where there is no oxygen.
 Biogas can occur naturally or as part of an industrial process to intentionally create it as a fuel.
 A wide variety of waste material breaks down into biogas, including animal manure, municipal rubbish or waste, plant material, food waste or sewage.

Which gases does Biogas contain?
 Biogas consists mainly of methane and carbon dioxide. It can also include small amounts of hydrogen sulphide, siloxanes and some moisture. The relative quantities of these vary depending on the type of waste involved in the production of the resulting biogas.

Advantages of Bio-Gas:
 The raw materials used in biogas production are renewable, as trees and crops will continue to grow. Manure, food scraps, and crop residue are always available raw materials, making it a highly sustainable option.
 It is a simple and low-cost technology that promotes a circular economy. The technology used to generate biogas is relatively inexpensive. It is simple to set up and requires little investment when used on a small scale.
 Biogas can also be compressed to the quality of natural gas and used to power automobiles in large plants. Such plants require little capital investment and create green jobs.
 Biogas generators relieve women and children from gathering firewood. As a result, more time is available for other productive activities. More importantly, cooking on a biogas rather than an open fire keeps the family safe from smoke in the This aids in the prevention of deadly respiratory diseases.
 Producing biogas from waste reduces dumping of wastes in landfills. Landfills also allow toxic liquids to enter underground water and as a result shifting to Biogas plants can prevent water pollution too.
 Similarly, waste collection and management improve dramatically in areas with biogas plants. This, in turn, leads to improvements in the environment, sanitation, and hygiene.
 The byproduct of the biogas generation process is enriched organic digestate, which is an excellent supplement to or replacement for chemical fertilisers.

What are limitations of Biogas?
 Setting up Biogas plants is a costly affair with little innovation and technology upgradation seen that can minimize the costs.
 Impurities remain in biogas after refinement and compression. Use of Biogas in automobiles can corrode the engine’s metal parts.
 Biogas generation, like other renewable energy sources (such as solar and wind), is influenced by the weather. The ideal temperature for bacteria to digest waste is around 37°C. Digesters in cold climates require heat energy to maintain a constant biogas supply. Hence its use is limited to warm regions.
 Difficult to establish Biogas plants in urban areas which contribute to more wastes. More land is required to establish these plants and setting them up in rural areas will lead to higher transportation costs and more pollution would follow.

What are Government initiatives to promote Biogas?
 Sustainable Alternative to More Affordable Transportation (SATAT) programme – Private companies are encouraged to setup Compressed Biogas plants.
 Galvanizing Organic Bio-Agro Resources (GOBAR)-Dhan was launched by the Government of India as a part of the biodegradable waste management component under the Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin.
 The Government of India and NITI Aayog have devised road maps to speed up the country’s transition to environmentally friendly fuels and to boost the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG), hydrogen, and methanol.
 National Bio-energy Programme (2021-22 to 2025-26) 

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