Asian Development Bank and SAEL Industries Limited have signed loan agreements of up to 7.5 billion rupees (US$91.14 million) to promote the generation of biomass energy using agricultural residue in a bid to further diversify India’s energy mix and reduce carbon intensity.
The support from ADB will fund the construction of five 14.9-megawatt biomass power plants in the districts of Bikaner, Churu, Hanumangarh, Jhunjhunu, and Sikar in the state of Rajasthan.
Around 1.5 billion rupees will be provided for each power plant to subsidiaries of SAEL Industries: Chattargarh Renewable Energy Private Limited, KTA Power Private Limited, Sardarshahar Agri Energy Private Limited, TNA Renewable Energy Private Limited, and VCA Power Private Limited.
“Establishing biomass power plants that can repurpose agricultural residue will help protect the environment while contributing to the government’s goal of expanding renewable energy sources and reducing carbon dioxide emissions," says Ashok Lavasa, ADB vice-president for private sector operations and public–private partnerships.
“It will also help increase income of local farmers through sales of agricultural residue and reduce burning of agricultural waste, contributing to improvement of air quality,” Lavasa notes. “ADB’s assistance will have a powerful demonstration effect for biomass power by helping reduce risk perceptions and by creating awareness of its benefits and potential for use in other rural communities and developing member countries.”
More than half the land in Rajasthan is dedicated to agriculture. Local farms burn huge volumes of waste including stalks, husks, and straw, causing air pollution. These crop stubble burnings contribute to the worsening of air quality. High levels of fine particulate matter have been linked to health effects such as asthma and decreased lung function. The burning of crop stubble also contributes to reduced soil quality, requiring increased use of agriculture chemicals which causes other health issues.
The power plants will convert about 650,000 tonnes of agricultural residues into electricity and are expected to generate 544 gigawatt-hours of energy per annum, helping avoid up to 487,200 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.
SAEL Industries is a renewable energy company with strong focus on the creation of green assets to contribute to transition to green energy, with biomass and solar power projects in various states in India.