Himachal Govt and Oil India Limited sign MoU to produce Compressed Bio Gas from pine needles

Pine Needles cause major threats to Environment, Forest Biodiversity, and Local Economy in the entire Himalayan Region due to their non-biodegradable and highly-inflammable nature which are the main cause of forest fire hazards.   Around 1200 to 2500 forest fires are reported in Himachal every year affecting the flora and fauna of thousands of hectares of land. Keeping this into consideration, the State Government mulls to produce Compressed Bio Gas (CBG) from pine needles and has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Oil India Limited (OIL) recently and endeavors to start a pilot project for the Bioconversion of pine needles into biofuel.  Apart from being eco-friendly, it will help in the proper disposal of organic waste. 

Since Himachal Pradesh is a treasure house of vast forest wealth, forest waste can prove to be a game changer. The utilization of pine needles for biofuel production through pyrolysis and other techniques will be a sustainable way of dealing with both the issues of forest fires as well as the energy crisis.  In a recently inked pact, the State Government and OIL will collaborate to harness and develop New and Renewable Energy Resources including CBG. Pine forests are in abundance in the lower elevations of the State including Kangra, Una and Hamirpur districts and recent research has revealed that pine needles can be converted into CBG, a sustainable energy resource that has the potential to replace fossil fuels. The State Government is eying an opportunity to take advantage of the forest waste.  Pine gasification may become a source of employment for rural people and meanwhile, also protect forests from fire. 

Chief Minister Thakur Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu said, “OIL has assured all-out support to develop renewable energy, promote research and development and create a sustainable and resilient energy system. MoU signed between two entities is a significant step towards achieving the goal of making Himachal Pradesh the first Green Energy State of the country by March 2026.”

OIL would test the feasibility of producing CBG from the pine needles of the State in HP Green Research and Development Centre, Bangalore as the samples of pine needles will be sent by the Department of Energy shortly. If the results are encouraging, this will not only pave the way for producing sustainable energy sources replacing traditional fossil fuels but will also boost the economy of lower belts of the state.

CBG has properties similar to CNG and can be used as Green Renewable Automotive Fuel. “CBG has the potential to replace CNG in automotive, industrial, and commercial sectors. The abundance of pine needles makes it a promising source of energy for the State,” said Sh. Sukhu.

The conversion of pine needles into fuel gases or electricity immediately adds to its economic value and acts as a motivator for the people to collect them. “It is necessary to protect the bio-diversity so that the food stock for livestock is enhanced and it is only possible when we clear our forests from the Pine needles waste and utilize them for renewal energy sources,” stated the Chief Minister.

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