Rice, bamboo fuelled power plant in Assam
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Rice, bamboo fuelled power plant in Assam

An environment-friendly power station fuelled by rice husk and bamboo dust is to be set up in Assam.

india Updated: Jun 05, 2006 12:40 IST

An environment-friendly power station fuelled by rice husk and bamboo dust is to be set up in Assam to help meet the northeastern region's energy needs, an official said Monday.

A state government spokesman said the proposed power plant with an installed capacity of 16 megawatt is to be set up at Sonapur, about 20 km east from here.

"Locally available rice husks and abundant bamboo wastes from two paper mills in the state would be used for generating energy on a small scale at the proposed power plant at Sonapur," Assam Power Minister Pradyut Bordoloi saidin an interview.

Assam will probably be the first state in India to use "green" power and one of the first places in the world to tap the energy potential of the fast-growing grass.

India, the world's largest producer of bamboo after China, grows about 80 million tonnes of the grass each year, more than half of it is in the northeast.

The power plant that would cost an estimated Rs.500 million ($10.8) is to be set up by Amrit Biogas, a company formed by some entrepreneurs in neighbouring West Bengal state.

"The Assam government would extend all cooperation to Amrit Biogas in procuring land and other facilities, including possible marketing of the power generated," the minister said.

The gasification of rice hulls to produce power is in use in several countries like the US, China, Italy, Thailand, and in India. A limited number of small-scale rice hull gasifiers are in use in northern India for generation of electricity and irrigation water pumping.

"This would not only be cost effective but also highly eco-friendly," the minister said.

Two pioneering power stations that would run exclusively on bamboo are likely to be operational later this year in Assam with the National Mission on Bamboo Applications (NMBA) funding the project.

The two 1-MW capacity power plants using bamboo and bamboo wastes to produce electricity should be commissioned later this year.

The government organisation NMBA, which has centres in five northeastern states, funds research into commercial, industrial and other uses for bamboo, which grows widely in the area.

Local paper mills will use the electricity produced by the bamboo-based power plants, about two million watts a year, initially.

"Power from the two plants would be now used by two paper mills although such bamboo-fuelled energy could be suitably used in off-grid and remote locations, and to meet captive industry and utility needs," an NMBA official said.

Meanwhile, the Assam government has planned an ambitious roadmap named "unleashing energy" to generate 1,630 MW of power in the next decade with emphasis on setting up hydroelectric power plants.

"We would welcome private investors to set up power projects and the state government would offer single window clearance for such joint ventures," the minister said.

Assam requires about 750 MW of power a day and it currently produces less than 40 percent of the total requirement.

First Published: Jun 05, 2006 12:40 IST