Why Biomass? .

Biomass is organic non-fossil material, collectively. In other words, 'biomass' describes the mass of all biological organisms, dead or alive, excluding biological mass that has been transformed by geological processes into substances such as coal or petroleum.

Carbon Sinks

There is a vital difference between energy production from fossil fuels and from biomass. Burning fossil fuels releases CO2 that has been locked up for millions of years. By contrast burning biomass simply returns to the atmosphere the CO2 that was absorbed as the plants grew and there is no net release of CO2, if the cycle of growth and harvest is sustained. Thus the biomass option is proven to be CO2 neutral. Energy plantations will act as carbon sinks. As such the energy producers using biomass could benefit from Carbon Credits under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) formulated under the Kyoto Protocol. Carbon Credits are being traded for US $ 5-10 per ton.

Soil Enrichment

The establishment of Short rotation coppice (SRC) plantations with Nitrogen fixing trees such as Gliricidia and Leucena in degraded lands previously used by shifting cultivators will over time upgrade the land to its original status.

Soil Erosion

Gliricidia has been proven to be ideal for Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (SALT). Through a method of planting along the grid lines in twin hedgerows soil erosion can be arrested. This method has been very effectively sustained in the hill country in tobacco growing lands.

Pricing

Energy content-wise 4 tons of fuel-wood is equivalent to 2 ton of Coal or 1 ton of oil. At prices for oil at around Rs 42,000/= per ton, the energy equivalent price of fuel-wood would be around Rs 10,000/= per ton. The current delivered price of sustainably grown fuel-wood (Gliricidia) is Rs 2,500/= per ton. Presently, energy for energy, sustainably grown fuel-wood ( SGF) is three times cheaper than oil. With the creation of the market fuel-wood is likely to be even cheaper to the future. As the price of fossil fuel continue to increase and the supply becoming volatile, domestically grown fuel-wood will become increasingly attractive.

Employment & Growth in Rural Economy

Fuel-wood farming can become an attractive employment opportunity to the rural youth. A fully grown energy plantation of 20 ha (50 acres) can provide employment to around 40 persons on a sustainable basis bringing an income of around Rs 200 a day for manual labor. A 1 MW power plant would inject a sum of Rs 25 million to the rural economy. This sum will be shared between the farmers and the collecting agents. This opportunity will also prevent migration by the rural youth to urban areas.

Foreign Exchange

Large sums of foreign exchange will be saved from not importing fossil fuel and can be diverted to other important areas or reserves.

Land Use and Green cover

Large extents of unproductive lands would now be better utilized as energy plantations. Not only will there be plantations but simultaneously the green cover in the country will be enhanced. If 50,000 Hectares of energy plantations are grown it can increase the forest cover from the current 19% to 25%.

Electricity to Inaccessible Areas

There are many areas in the country where grid electricity may not reach due to transmission difficulties. Biomass electricity is an ideal solution to such areas.

Economic, Social and Environmental Impact

The economic, social, and environmental impact from the above will be a tremendous boost to the country as a whole.

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