Cabinet approves using bagasse for bioenergy

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    Conceptual Diagram of Biomass Power Generation in a Sugar Factory
    Conceptual Diagram of Biomass Power Generation in a Sugar Factory

    KATHMANDU, JUN 04 – The Cabinet’s Economic Infrastructure Committee on Wednesday approved the proposal of the Ministry of Industry to harness bagasse, the fibrous matter that is left after sugarcane has been crushed to extract its juice, to use as fuel to generate electricity.

    Dried bagasse is burned in boilers to produce steam which powers electricity generators. Bagasse produces fewer emissions than fossil fuels.

    Industry Minister Mahesh Basnet said there were more than 11 sugar mills operating in the country, and that 90 MW of electricity could be produced during the dry season which lasts from November to February.

    Under the ministry’s initiative, a study was conducted to see whether it was feasible to produce electricity from the sugarcane by-product.

    The study showed that using the current facilities of the sugar mills, they can generate 10-12 MW of electricity that could be promptly fed into the national grid.

    The power generated by bagasse power plants is expected to be double that generated by the Nepal Electricity Authority’s diesel plants. Besides, the cost of linking the power to the national grid would be nominal, and the work can be completed within six months.

    In addition, the study has shown that if the existing facilities of the sugar mills were to upgraded, they would be able to generate 30-40 MW of power within two years. Making a significant investment in such plants could produce 63-87 MW of power within four years.

    For example, sugarcane production is a large industry in Brazil, and their bagasse power plants account for about 3 percent of their total energy production.

    “The sugar mills operating in Nepal have been crushing 3 million tonnes of sugarcane and the waste can be used to generate power during the peak load-shedding hours in December-February,” said Basnet.

    “The electricity generated by bagasse-fuelled plants could reduce load-shedding by two hours daily during the dry season.”

    According to Basnet, bagasse-powered plants could contribute 18 percent of the total electricity generated in the country during the dry season. During the dry season, the country’s hydro plants produce 1.18 billion units of electricity.

    The ministry said that the country should encourage such technology which is also practiced by a number of countries.

    According to the Ministry of Agricultural Development, sugarcane production increased 2 percent to 3.63 million tonnes during this fiscal year. Sugarcane, which is the major cash crop in the Tarai, is cultivated on 66,600 hectares of land.

    For every 10 tonnes of sugarcane crushed, a sugar factory produces nearly 3 tonnes of wet bagasse. The sugarcane waste has multiple benefits. For electricity production, it is stored under moist conditions, and the mild exothermic reaction that results from the degradation of residual sugars dries the bagasse pile slightly.

    For paper and pulp production, it is normally stored wet in order to assist in removal of the short pith fibres, which impede the papermaking process.

    Source : eKantipur