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Daily-current-affairs / 28 Nov 2023

Maximizing the Potential of Pressmud in India's CBG Industry for Sustainable Energy and Waste Management : Daily News Analysis


Date : 29/11/2023

Relevance: GS Paper 3 - Environment - Renewable Energy and Sustainable development

Keywords: Compressed Biogas (CBG), compressed natural gas (CNG), SATAT Scheme, National Biofuel Policy 2018


  • In recent years, India has emerged as a global leader in sugar production, surpassing Brazil and securing a key position in the worldwide sugar economy since the fiscal year 2021-22. Notably, India stands as the second-largest sugar exporter globally.
  • The expansion of the ethanol biofuel sector has played a pivotal role in strengthening the sugar industry, contributing to improved financial standing for sugar mills.

Pressmud: A Valuable Feedstock

One significant byproduct in the sugar industry, pressmud, also known as filter cake or press cake, has gained recognition as a valuable resource for green energy production. This residue, a result of sugar processing, can be utilized to generate additional revenue for Indian sugar mills by serving as a feedstock for biogas production through anaerobic digestion, leading to the creation of compressed biogas (CBG). The yield of pressmud typically falls within the range of 3-4 percent weight by weight with the input sugarcane processed in a unit. The use of pressmud as a feedstock for CBG offers several advantages over other feedstocks:

  • Simplified Supply Chain: Pressmud eliminates the complexities associated with the feedstock supply chain found in agricultural residue, where biomass harvesting machinery is required for harvesting and aggregation.
  • Single or Few Producers: The feedstock is sourced from one or two producers or sugar mills, unlike agricultural residue, which involves multiple producers/farmers within a narrow window of 45 days per year.
  • Quality Assurance: Pressmud's quality is not a concern, unlike municipal solid waste, which may contain inorganic material that can damage anaerobic digesters, leading to lower gas output.
  • Cost Efficiency: In terms of conversion efficiency, approximately 25 tonnes of pressmud are needed to produce a tonne of CBG, making it more economical than other feedstocks like agricultural residue and cattle dung.

Challenges and Rising Pressmud Prices

  • Despite its potential, pressmud comes with specific challenges. Once considered a disposal issue, sugar mill owners have recognized its revenue-generating potential, leading to a substantial increase in pressmud prices over the last two years, rising from Rs 100 per tonne to Rs 500-600 per tonne.
  • Pressmud faces competition for use as a fertilizer and in bio-composting, contending with spent wash and being used as fuel in brick kilns. Lack of long-term agreements with sugar mills and the involvement of mediators in procurement further compound the challenges.
  • Additionally, storing pressmud proves challenging as it undergoes gradual decomposition, complicating long-term storage and raising production costs.

Regional Production and Sugarcane Cultivation

  • Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, the primary sugarcane-growing states, contribute to approximately 65 percent of the total sugarcane cultivation area.
  • Key sugarcane-producing states include Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Bihar. Collectively, these states account for around 440 million tonnes out of India's overall sugarcane production, which reached about 495 million tonnes in 2022-23.
  • In the fiscal year 2022-23, among the 531 operational sugar mills in India, 330 were privately owned, 190 were cooperative, and 11 were public. India's sugar production for the fiscal year 2022-23 amounted to 32.74 million tonnes, along with approximately 11.4 million tonnes of pressmud.

Potential of CBG from Pressmud

The quantity of pressmud generated has the potential to generate 460,000 tonnes of CBG valued at Rs 2,484 crore. This calculation considers the minimum guaranteed price of Rs 54/kg under the central government’s Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation scheme. To fully unlock the potential of pressmud as a resource for the CBG industry, several interventions are necessary:

  • State Bioenergy Policies: States with the highest CBG potential from pressmud should implement bioenergy policies that streamline the approval process for projects, providing unified solutions and a variety of incentives, both monetary and non-monetary. Progressive steps taken by states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in introducing supportive bioenergy policies for CBG plants serve as exemplary models.
  • Control Mechanism for Pressmud Prices: To prevent long-term economic instability in CBG plants resulting from unsustainable feedstock costs, the government should establish a mechanism to control pressmud prices below a specified threshold. Encouraging sugar mills to commit to extended agreements (10-15 years) with CBG plants, featuring an annual rate increase, will ensure economic viability.
  • Technological Research for Pressmud Storage: Comprehensive research is essential to developing technologies for pressmud storage that prevent methane emissions into the environment and minimize gas loss from the feedstock. This research should address the challenge of gradual decomposition, complicating long-term storage and raising production costs.
  • Training Programs: State renewable energy nodal agencies and biogas development and training centers should conduct periodic training sessions to educate operators on the functioning of CBG plants, handling scientific equipment, and feedstock characterization.

Understanding Compressed Biogas (CBG)

  • CBG is an energy-rich gas produced through the anaerobic decomposition of biomass. It can be derived from various sources such as agriculture residue, cattle dung, sugarcane press mud, municipal solid waste, and sewage treatment plant waste.
  • The process involves purifying and upgrading biogas by removing impurities such as carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide, resulting in CBG with a methane content of over 90%. This composition aligns closely with commercially available natural gas in terms of both composition and energy potential.

Government Initiatives to promote CBG

The National Biofuels Coordination Committee (NBCC), approved the mandatory blending of CBG with compressed natural gas (CNG) for transportation and piped natural gas (PNG) for households, starting from the fiscal year 2025-26 (FY26).

  • FY26: 1% blending of total CNG and domestic PNG consumption.
  • FY27: 3% blending.
  • FY28: 4% blending.
  • FY29 onwards: 5% blending

The Union Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Housing & Urban Affairs inaugurated Asia’s largest Compressed Bio Gas plant in Lehragaga, Sangrur in the state of Punjab.

SATAT Scheme: It will fulfill the objectives of the Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT) scheme 2018 to establish an ecosystem for production of CBG from various waste/ biomass sources in India.

CBG Significance as a fuel

  • CBG has calorific value and other properties similar to CNG and hence can be utilized as green renewable automotive fuel.
  • Thus, it can replace CNG in automotive, industrial and commercial areas, given the abundance of biomass availability within the country.
Pressmud represents a low-hanging fruit for the CBG industry, offering a solution to waste management issues in sugar mills, creating a sustainable energy source, and supplying organic fertilizer to soils. With the right interventions, including supportive state policies, price control mechanisms, technological advancements, and training programs, India can fully harness the potential of pressmud, contributing significantly to the country's renewable energy goals and sustainable development. It is imperative that stakeholders, including the government, sugar mills, and research institutions, collaborate to make pressmud a cornerstone in India's journey towards a greener and more energy-efficient future.


In conclusion, the journey towards Universal Health Coverage demands a comprehensive and collaborative approach, leveraging digital technologies, private sector engagement, and global cooperation. The challenges are formidable, but with strategic planning and shared commitment, nations can pave the way for a healthier future.

Probable Questions for UPSC mains Exam-

  1. Evaluate pressmud's potential as a feedstock for CBG in India's sugar industry, emphasizing its role in sustainable energy. Assess the advantages and challenges of pressmud for CBG production. (10 marks, 150 Words)
  2. Analyze government initiatives, like mandatory CBG blending, and their impact on promoting CBG in transportation and domestic sectors. Examine CBG's significance in reducing India's natural gas import dependency. (15 marks, 250 words)

Source- Down To Earth