Subodh Kumar, Executive Director for Alternate Energy & Sustainable Development at Indian Oil Corporation.

May 3, 2019

Success for Indian biogas tender

By the end of 2023, India will have built 5,000 plants for the production of compressed biogas (CBG), which will replace oil. This will be achieved through an international tender. The first round is now complete and contracts have been drawn up for the first 500 or so plants, says Subodh Kumar, Executive Director for Alternate Energy & Sustainable Development at Indian Oil Corporation, one of the three major state-owned energy companies that are running the tender on the government’s behalf.

“The first phase of the international tender started on 1 October last year. It closed on 31 March and we’ve signed agreements for around 500 plants. This is a major success. We’d only expected about 200 in the first round,” says Kumar.

Ideal conditions

He describes the basic conditions for biogas production in India as ideal.

“We have 1.3 billion inhabitants, who generate large amounts of waste, not least waste and waste products from agriculture, which can easily be broken down into biogas through anaerobic digestion. And we also have more than 300 million cows, whose dung can be used in the production process.”

Several rounds

India is inviting entrepreneurs from all over the world to set themselves up and start producing compressed biogas. Indian Oil will then buy the gas, at a price that has been fixed in advance at Rs. 48 per kilo of CBG.

“This makes it easy for the entrepreneurs, and for those who are funding them in particular, to calculate the costs involved. Our aim is that each plant will be able to process an average of 100 tons of waste a day and some plants will be bigger than others,” says director Kumar, who would be delighted to see Swedish entrepreneurs getting involved in the project. The next phase of this major tender is due to start in June or July.

Sharing of knowledge

Ludvig Lindström, programme manager for the Swedish Energy Agency’s India-Sweden Innovations’ Accelerator, sees both opportunities and challenges for Swedish entrepreneurs entering the Indian market for the production and sale of compressed biogas:

“The rapid urbanization in India creates a pressure on the supporting systems, like solid waste management and sewage treatment. This is a challenge in itself – and an opportunity for new business segments. Sweden can provide experiences from decades of development in this sector. We have done the journey, I believe it can be shortened, and the knowledge can be shared. But it is necessary to understand the differences, that there is a need for adaption, even if there are some functions that are fundamental. And that, again, adaptation is a challenge in itself.”

Whole of the chain must work effectively

Amongst other things, Lindström mentions systems and infrastructure for sorting, transportation and substrate management.

“Here in Sweden we have a wealth of experience of building the local systems in such a way that everything works effectively. In India, to a large extent, this work, plus generating an awareness of the importance of sorting waste, is yet to be done. Not only can Swedish companies provide sorting and digestion technology, they can also provide valuable expertise around the approach that needs to be taken if the entire chain is to work effectively.”