In Punjab’s paddy stubble problem, German firm sees opportunity, green gas revolution

In Punjab’s paddy stubble problem, German firm sees opportunity, green gas revolution

Germany-based Verbio’s Chief Operating Officer Dr Oliver Ludtke (centre) during the Progressive Punjab Investors Summit on Friday. (Express Photo)

A German firm Friday claimed to have developed a technology to produce biomethane, a compressed biogas (CBG) to be used in vehicles, from paddy straw, offering a possible solution to the one of biggest problems that Punjab faces every harvesting season.

Germany-based Verbio’s Chief Operating Officer Dr Oliver Ludtke said his company has signed an agreement with Indian Oil Corporation Limited for the supply of CBG to be used at petro giant’s outlets. He made the announcement on the second day of the Progressive Punjab Investors Summit here.

Ludtke said that the first such facility of the company was coming up near Lehragaga in Sangrur district and would be operational by mid 2020 and would provide direct employment to about 100 people. He said the facility would have a capacity to process 110,000 tonnes of paddy straw annually to produce 33000 kg of CBG.

As a trial to procure paddy straw, Ludtke said the company team procured 2500 tonnes of the straw from the farmers after the paddy harvesting earlier this year.

Ludtke said the company was looking forward to set up five to ten more units and was willing to share technology with business houses in India for setting up of hundreds of such plants across the state to tackle the problem of stubble burning. He termed the arrangement as win win situation for both the prospective stubble procuring companies and farmers.

Ludtke termed it “The Green Gas Revolution” where “200 straw plants would give direct employment to 20000 persons and indirect employment to 2 lakh persons, will make available CBG for more than 2,000 filling stations and will make Punjab global flagship for sustainability.”

This comes on a day when Punjab government projected stubble management as a field with huge investment potential, urging companies to invest in the processing of paddy straw.

“Paddy stubble is one of the serious problems we have today. Almost 20 million tonne of stubble is being produced every year, of which only 5 million tonne is processed, leaving a surplus of 15 million tonne with farmers who have no option but to burn it,” said Punjab Additional Chief Secretary (Development) Viswajeet Khanna during the Summit here.

He said the stubble management had huge investment potential. “It (stubble) can be used for burning in boilers,” said Khanna.

Two days ago, the Hinduja group had offered to help Punjab in addressing the problem by using straw in ethanol plants. The offer was made during a meeting between Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Hinduja group Chairman Prakash Hinduja.

Khanna said with the support of the Centre, over 50,000 machines were distributed among paddy growers for the management of crop residue in the past two years. “Last year, we reduced the area under stubble burning by 10 per cent but this year, unfortunately for various factors, there were equal number of fire incidents as were last year. We could not reduce these this year,” Khanna said.