Maharashtra sugar mills, which are facing a financial crisis due to glut in sugar production, less demand in the market, and a challenge to pay timely FRP (fair and remunerative price) to farmers, plan to establish compressed biogas (CBG) plants in an effort to find financial stability.
Sugar millers discussed CBG plants in a recent meeting organised by Vasantdada Sugar Institute (VSI), the premier research and development organisation in sugar and allied industry.
VSI Chairman Sharad Pawar briefed sugar millers about the opportunities in CGB and said that sugar mills in the State have the potential to generate 1.5 lakh tonne CBG every year to earn ₹700 crore.
A roadmap towards self-reliance in the energy space
Alternative income sources
The Government of India, under the Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT) initiatives, envisages setting up 5,000 CBG plants with an investment of about ₹2 lakh crore by 2023-24 with the production target of 15 million tonnes, facilitating the creation of new employment opportunities and enhancing farmers’ income towards further invigorating the rural economy.
Pawar insisted that sugar mills will have to look for alternative sources of income as sugar production alone is not going to help recover losses.
‘Expect investment of ₹2-lakh crore to set up 5,000 compressed bio-gas plants’
VSI Director General Shivajirao Deshmukh said Bhima sugar mill in the State is setting up a pilot CBG plant and more mills will join the league.
Sugar mills have been complaining that with minimum selling price (MSP) unchanged for the last couple of years, mills are struggling to pay FRP to farmers. As a result of a delay in paying FRP, some mills have faced action.
B heavy molasses
Meanwhile, the sugar industry has reiterated that the government must buy ethanol produced by blending sugar in B heavy molasses at a rate of ₹62.65 per litre. The rate for ethanol produced using sugarcane juice is about ₹60 per litre. About 25 lakh tonnes of sugar could be used for ethanol produced by adding sugar to B heavy molasses.