A renewable energy revolution, rooted in agriculture | 26th October 2022 | UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis

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What’s the article about?

  • It talks about how the use of paddy straw for the production of Compressed BioGas (CBG) initiated a renewable energy revolution which has its roots in agriculture.

Relevance: GS3: Environmental Pollution and Degradation; Infrastructure: Energy

What’s the crux of the article?

  • Every year farmers in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh dispose of paddy stubble and the biomass by setting it on fire to prepare fields for the next crop.
  • The resultant clouds of smoke engulf the entire National Capital Territory of Delhi and neighbouring States for several weeks between October to December. This plays havoc with the environment and affects human and livestock health.
  • Thus the government and other organisations are working on the solution to this issue.

Solutions:

  • The Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas (CAQM) had developed a framework and action plan for the effective prevention and control of stubble burning.
  • This includes in-situ & Ex-situ  management.
  • NITI Aayog approached FAO India in 2019 to explore converting paddy straw and stubble into energy and identify possible ex-situ uses of rice straw to complement the in-situ programme.
  • Government launched a scheme “Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT)- to produce CBG from paddy straw.

Advantages:

  • A techno-economic assessment of energy technologies suggested that rice straw can be cost-effective for producing CBG and pellets.
  • Pellets can be used in thermal power plants as a substitute of coal and CBG as a transport fuel.
  • This initiative is an ideal example of a ‘wealth from waste’ approach and circular economy.

Way Forward:

  • This appears to be a first win-win initiative in the form of environmental benefits, renewable energy, value addition to the economy, farmers’ income and sustainability.
  • This initiative is replicable and scalable across the country and can be a game changer for the rural economy.



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