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Turning agricultural waste to renewable energy

turning
A meeting with farmers.
Photo: ICRISAT

Managing agricultural wastes in an environment-friendly way is a critical need now and more so in the future. Spectrum Renewable Energy Limited (SREL), an incubatee of the ICRISAT Agri-Business Incubation Program (ABI), is turning agricultural waste into useful products like Compressed BioGas (CBG), organic manure and automotive fuel.

SREL converts sugarcane waste called ‘press mud’ (filter cake) into renewable CBG and organic manure/soil conditioner. Dr AV Mohan Rao, Founder and CEO, SERL, said, “Biogas plants have huge potential to produce clean fuel from agricultural organic waste. These initiatives hold the key to energy security and have the capacity to reduce the demand for electric power, consumption of chemical fertilizers and also reduce global warming. They can facilitate the replacement of fossil fuels while simultaneously making organic fertilizers available to the local farmers.”

ABI helped SREL commercialize this technology besides providing technical and business consultancy, facilitation of product enrichment, business development, and networking opportunities with agribusiness experts, corporate entities and investors.

“SREL’s aim is to develop self-sustained rural enterprises and decentralized energy systems based on CBG to make poor farmers and rural areas economically developed/competitive in all respects. This initiative has further helped the farmers with access to markets, contract farming and also strongly supports ICRISAT’s mandate of empowering smallholder farmers through sustainable agriculture,” said Mr SM Karuppanchetty, COO, ICRISAT-Agri-Business Incubation Program, which is part of the ICRISAT Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP).

The company runs its large-scale biogas generation and bottling project at Kodoli, near Kolhapur, Maharashtra, India, which can handle 100 tonnes of press-mud, producing about 7,000 kg of compressed biogas with high methane content and 30 tonnes of organic manure daily.

The product awaits necessary approvals from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and other relevant agencies for use as transportation fuel.

biogas
ABiogas Filling Station.
Photo: ICRISAT