A recent press release by the government revealed that all sugar mills in the country have cogeneration plants to produce steam and electricity from bagasse.Bagasse is the fibrous matter that remains after sugarcane stalks are crushed to extract their juice. This bi-product generated in sugar mills is an excellent bio-fuel.
Cogeneration is the process whereby a single fuel source is used to produce both electrical and thermal energy.In a conventional power plant, fuel is burnt in a boiler to generate high-pressure steam which is used to drive a turbine, which in turn drives an alternator through a steam turbine to produce electrical power.The sugar mills in India consume their own bagasse to run their mills and generate steam to run the boilers and turbines. An onsite cogeneration system is more efficient than a utility operated central power plant since thermal energy that would otherwise be wasted is captured for use at the facility.
Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) provides fiscal and financial incentives for surplus electricity generated by utilizing optimum cogeneration by the sugar mills.So far, 213 sugar mills have installed bagasse optimum cogeneration plants with a total installed capacity of about 2332MW under the scheme on biomass power/ bagasse cogeneration to generate electricity and its sale.
About 1000 MW surplus capacity of electricity have been installed by 73 sugar mills during last three years under the said scheme It is estimated that four million units of electricity per megawatt of capacity of the cogeneration plant is generated per year.