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Asia's biggest biomass power plant becomes functional

RAJKOT: Asia's biggest power plant based on biomass gasification has been commissioned at Kothara village in Kutch district. The 500 kw plant put up by Gujarat Energy Development Agency (GEDA) is the first of its kind in India.

The Rs 2-crore eco-friendly project has been set up on an experimental basis. It would form part of a research process for the development of new avenues of power generation from non-conventional resources, said an official media release here on Wednesday adding that in comparison to thermal power plants this would be the most economical one.

With the commissioning of biomass gassification project, Kutch has come into limelight in the field of harnessing non-conventional energy and apart from meeting the requirment of the village, the power would be fed to the state electricity power grid, said GEDA sources.

GEDA, which has plans to undertake many projects for tapping energy from non-conventional resources, had launched a programme of energy plantation on wasteland in the eighties. Apart from growing plants for generating power, its objectives were to reclaim land, produce fodder for cattle, provide employment to the local population and help in the development of the region.

Prosopisis juliflora, locally known as 'gando bavar', and its species were mainly raised for energy plantations which are known to be wind resistant and require little water. It has also the quality of high fuel power and gives maximum energy calories. On an average, four to eight tonnes of biomass was produced annually from one hectare of energy plantation.

Prosophisis juliflora is an aggressive tree and grows very fast. Three to four metres of its growth has been registered on an average every year and even under the most unfavourable conditions. This plantation has made a sea change in the environment of the areas besides providing livelihood to the local people by generating thousand of mandays during the years providing free fodder to the needy cattle breeders at the time of scarcity.

During the 1950s, prosopisis juliflora was planted to prevent the advancing desert in the little Rann of Kutch, but later posed a serious threat to the agriculture land. According to statistics of the remote sensing satellite indications, over 2,000 hectares of agriculture land has been decreasing due to these ingresses every year.

According to the release, the systematic rows of plants, which have now grown into full-fledged trees of 10 to 15 feet in a number of nearby villages on barren land in desert areas also have made a far reaching impact on the surroundings and lifestyle of villagers. The tress have also been providing relief from high velocity winds and dust.

The company release said there was a good scope for bringing revolution in the field of power generation by setting up eco-friendly and economical projects, as the much-needed biomass was available in abundance. To balance the plantation and also put them into profitable use, biomass-power plants were the best solution, the comapny added.(PTI)

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