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Biomass plants can be installed in Punjab

A comprehensive analysis has revealed the potential for generating 980MW of renewable energy at a low cost from agricultural waste (biomass), which is currently not being utilized, in eight districts in Punjab.

The study is being conducted by German NGO GIZ and All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma), who have joined hands with alternative energy solution providers, to develop a market-based approach towards the utilisation of biomass for power generation, particularly for the textile industry.

“Never before has such a comprehensive survey been undertaken to find the potential of biomass in the region,” said Ali Ahsan, who heads APTMA’s energy committee in Punjab.

The net available biomass from these districts is estimated at 10.34 million tons per year, said Ahsan, adding that power plants with a capacity to generate 980MW of power could be installed with a thermal efficiency of 22 percent in these areas. The available thermal energy translates into some 28,304 billion kCal, he said.

Further, he said, the survey also revealed that the availability of biomass from these fields is negligible between the months of February and April and September to October while biomass is available in the remaining six months in varying quantities.

In order to achieve optimal results, the study recommended, the pre-conditioning of biomass at a location near the point of generation to reduce its volume. The setup of five biomass collection centres in Chiniot (Faisalabad), Gojra, Nankana Sahib, Okara, and Cheechawatni, where the biomass will be chopped and baled, is also recommended by the survey. Ahsan went on to add that high density rectangular baling is preferable while the process of briquetting or palletizing could also be used for further densification of biomass.

Chairman-elect Aptma Punjab S M Tanveer said that study has provided the textile sector with a complete strategy to set up 3MW, 6MW and 12MW biomass plants, which would consume 24,888, 49,775 and 99,551 tons of biomass in a year, respectively.

The study also recommended the construction of a covered storage area for 15 days of biomass storage which would require 0.18 acres of land for a 3MW plant, 0.36 acres for a 6MW plant and 0.71 acres for a 12MW plant.

Tanveer said the unit cost of electricity in the first year of operation would be Rs11.83 for a 3MW plant, Rs11.45 for a 6MW plant and Rs11.03 for a 12MW plant.

The initial capital cost of a biomass plant is $1.63 million per megawatt of installed capacity for a 3MW plant. The cost reduces to $1.58 per MW for a 6MW capacity plant and to $1.54 per MW for a 12MW plant.

The survey carried out by German NGO GIZ showed the availability of unused agricultural waste (biomass) for energy production in eight districts: Jhang (886,942 tons), Faisalabad (2.6 million tons), Chinoit (652,137 tons), Sahiwal (1.357 million tons), Okara (2.138 million tons), Toba Tek Singh (1.786 million tons) and Nankana Sahib (944,942 tons).

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