Biomass Energy for Rural India - Carbon Mitigation Report

31 Jul 2011


The study undertakes an analysis of carbon savings achieved by the Biomass Energy for Rural India project, supported by UNDP and funded by Global Environment Facility, and its related activities, as of July 2010 in five taluks in Tumkur district of Karnataka. It also assesses carbon savings to be achieved by the project in the future.

BERI is one of the projects supported by UNDP and funded by Global Environment Facility (GEF) and co-financed by India-Canada Environment Facility (ICEF), Government of Karnataka and Government of India (Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). The project was initiated in 2001. The project broadly aims to “develop and implement a bio-energy technology package to reduce GHG emissions to promote a sustainable and participatory approach in meeting rural energy needs”.

The main components of the project are:

1) Implement biomass gasifiers for electricity generation

2) Community biogas systems for cooking and meeting domestic loads.

3) Integrate efficient community irrigation processes

The project was envisaged to be implemented in 24 villages grouped into five clusters in the Tumkur district of Karnataka. The project is currently working in 31 villages and has progressed competently.

The BERI project aims to contribute to carbon mitigation through the following activities:

# Partial replacement of traditional fossil fuels through the application of renewable bio-energy in the form of biomass gasifiers for electricity and biogas for cooking

# Use of carbon sinks through the afforestation and reforestation efforts, saving carbon

#Use of efficient cook stoves thereby reducing the harmful GHG’s in the atmosphere.

The scope of the study covers:

# The BERI project area: Five taluks under the Tumkur district of Karnataka, which include, Tumkur, Koratgere, Gubbi, Madhugiri and Sira

# Estimated carbon emissions and reduction scenarios, where 'carbon' refers to just CO2

The methods used for the three components are as follows:

1) Assessing carbon savings from biomass power plants
The total fossil fuel power substituted through the deployment of biomass power plants can be estimated. This helps assess the net carbon mitigated since inception of the project. Carbon savings achieved as a result of the induction of biomass power required an impact assessment framework. The impact assessment will use a Business as Usual (BAU) scenario against a BERI project scenario.

2) Assessing carbon savings from afforestation
Based on an extensive field assessment of forest and farmland cultivated as part of the BERI project, the carbon sequestration and the carbon stock and flow were estimated. Above ground biomass, below ground biomass and soil carbon analysis was conducted as part of the assessment.

3) Assessing carbon savings from community biogas units
Similar to stage 1, the total fuel wood usage substituted through the installation of community biogas units is assessed. A BAU scenario was developed to establish past trends in fuel wood use per family; following which the carbon stock can be established. Once this is established, a BERI project scenario will be ascertained thereby signaling the net carbon reductions achieved by the BERI project through the introduction of biogas for cooking.

The outcome of the above three stages was to provide a cumulative measurement of additionality or incrementality associated with changes in carbon stock, in particular carbon emission reduction due to project activities in relation to the three main activities associated with the project. The carbon emissions reduction is analysed from power generation, running of biogas plants, and CO2 sequestration from cultivation of energy plantations.

Assessing carbon savings from biomass power plants
Two scenarios were used to assess the carbon mitigation potential arising from the institution and running of the biomass power plants as part of the BERI project. The results indicate that scenario 1, would result in total carbon savings of 198.44 tCO2 from 2001-2010, and annual savings of 22.04 tCO2. In an optimistic scenario two, total carbon savings of around 374.74 tCO2 from 2001-2010 equating to annual savings of around 41.6 tCO2 were estimated.

Assessing carbon savings from afforestation
The BERI project has instituted afforestation of common lands and forest lands in addition to promoting tree based farming. These activities generate significant carbon pools that contribute to mitigating GHG emissions from the BERI project. There are four carbon pools in such activities – aboveground biomass, belowground biomass, dead organic matter that includes dead wood and litter, and soil organic carbon. Furthermore, a certain amount of wood is extracted for functioning of the biomass gasifiers and this amount needs to be subtracted the overall carbon pools that determine the sequestration benefits of the project.
Overall, 2933.44 ha of forest and farm land have been cultivated since inception of the BERI project. Field visits and subsequent calculations have indicated the total carbon pool increment (compared to the baseline) in the project area, to be 239222 tCO2 (including for extraction).

Assessing carbon savings from community biogas units
The total fuel wood use reduced by the installation and use of the BERI project is calculated as 1.5 tonnes/household/year. Estimating this for the total 86 households benefiting from biogas, gives a total fuel wood conservation of 129 tonnes/year. Discounting for unsustainable extraction amounts to 86.5 tonnes/year. Overall, the assessment found that the total carbon emissions saved from the installation and use of biogas plants since inception can therefore be calculated to be 1428.5 tCO2.

Overall, combining all estimates, the overall carbon savings from the BERI project as of January 2011 is 240849.2 tCO2. The annual target achieved by the BERI project as of 2010 is 26,761 tCO2 annually. The contribution of the afforestation and reforestation efforts contributes the maximum amount to the carbon mitigation. It is however expected the biomass gasifiers and biogas units will be functioning at full technical potential by the time the project draws to a close in 2012. This will sufficiently increase the carbon emissions saved from biomass power and biogas in the project area.

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