Bio-CNG: Opportunities and Challenges in India

10 August 2023
Compressed Biogas

Anaerobic digestion of sewage, agricultural & food waste, manure, and other organic matter generates biogas. It is mainly methane and carbon dioxide. Biogas purification is essential to substitute renewable natural gas for several commercial and industrial applications, including fuel.

Compressed biogas plants work by minimizing the contents of carbon dioxide (CO2), hydrogen sulfide (H2S), and water vapor to retain methane. The calorific value of CBG (Compressed Biogas) is similar to that of CNG and thus can replace compressed natural gas for multiple applications, but only if biomass is available in abundance. There are a lot of challenges and opportunities for CBG adoption in India, but let’s begin by highlighting some benefits of CBG.

Benefits of Bio-CNG

Compressed biogas has several benefits, of which some of the most important ones are;

  • Increasing Bio-CNG production will reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign countries for crude oil and natural gas.
  • Bio-CNG’s responsible waste management structure facilitates India’s Swachh Bharat Mission.
  • An increase in CBG’s production will reduce pollution and aid the nation in achieving its climate change goals.
  • It allows people residing in rural areas, especially farmers, to have additional sources of income.
  • It reduces the impact of gas/crude price fluctuations and energy security concerns.

Now that you are aware of several benefits of Bio-CNG, let us understand the challenges and the way forward to maximize biogas production and consequent biogas purification.

Production of Bio-CNG: Challenges

The government of India is working towards improving the production of biomethane. However, some challenges persist.

  • Insufficient Feedstock

Even though there is mass production of organic matter in the country, India is still short of relevant feedstock. It is because the organic matter is not correctly segregated. As a result, it can damage the digesters and limit the possibility of Bio-CNG production.

  • High Investment

Setting up and operating a compressed biogas plant in India requires huge investment, and since the majority of the farmers are not financially strong, they are unable to participate in the CBG production, ultimately lowering the country’s overall production capacity.

  • Conventional Technology

It is common for several compressed biogas plants in India to function using conventional technology, which is not up to the mark and directly limits the possibility of scaling CBG production.

  • Government Policies

The Indian government puts undeniable efforts into developing schemes and policies concerning biogas and CBG production. However, the actual question is their implementation. Due to ineffective implementation, the authorities and policies are not able to encourage stakeholders to participate in the production of biomethane.

  • Lack of Awareness

Compressed biogas has substantial benefits, but people do not engage in its production due to a lack of knowledge and awareness.

  • Below-Par Distribution Facility

The nation lacks the suitable infrastructure to distribute or transport biomethane to the end customers, which makes it challenging to use it as an alternative for fossil fuel-based gasses, especially CNG, for several industrial and commercial applications.

Production of Bio-CNG: The Way Ahead

  • Increasing Relevant Feedstock

The government can promote the availability of relevant feedstock by encouraging farmers to cultivate energy crops like Napier Grass and Jatropha, along with the use of organic matter as feedstock for biomethane production.

  • Building Infrastructure

The Indian government can build several compressed biogas plants along with CBG refueling stations to increase its accessibility for customers. In addition, they can give allowance to attract potential players willing to build the CBG infrastructure, thereby developing the current infrastructure.

  • Research & Development

The country can work towards improving the efficiency of biomethane production by putting time, effort, and money into the research and development of feedstocks and their efficient conversion into CBG.

  • Promoting CBG

The country can conduct several activities to create awareness for Bio-CNG as a sustainable and cleaner substitute for fossil fuels. In addition, they can specifically promote it as a transportation fuel by encouraging people to opt for Bio-CNG vehicles.


India is known to be one of the fastest-developing economies globally. As a result, energy demand and consumption are also expected to rise rapidly. In the current scenario, the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels raises two significant concerns, i.e., increasing carbon emissions and the import bill.

Thus, to combat the primary concerns, it is essential for the country to efficiently implement policies such as SATAT and dedicatedly work on programs like NBMMP (National Biogas and Manure Management Programme), NCEF (National Clean Energy Fund), NMBOM (National Mission on Biogas and Organic Manure), and more to promote the production of biomethane in an eco-friendly and responsible manner.

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