ESG Reporting Frame Work

What Is Biogas Plant? A Sustainable Solution for Energy Generation

A biogas plant is a necessary mention whenever we talk about biogas, This plant which is also called an anaerobic digester, is a facility designed for biogas production using organic waste materials through anaerobic process,  known as anaerobic digestion. In an era marked by increasing concerns about environmental sustainability and a growing need to transition away from non-renewable energy sources biogas plants have made their mark.

Biogas Plant is a renewable energy source, obtained from organic waste consisting of approximately 55-65% methane, 30-40% carbon dioxide, and various impurities. Its applications span from cooking and heating to electricity generation, contributing to reduced carbon emissions.


History of Biogas Plants

The stories of trapping biogas and using it for various methods date back to 3,000 BC in the Middle East, when the Assyrians used biogas to heat their baths. Fast forward to the 17th century when Jan Baptista Van Helmont discovered that flammable gases could evolve from decaying organic matter, finally, In 1808, Sir Humphry Davy claimed that methane is present in the gases released during the anaerobic digestion of cattle manure.

And do you know when and where was the first official large biodigester installed?

The first official large biodigester was installed in 1859 in a leper colony in Mumbai, India. After that, John Webb, an innovative engineer from Victorian times in Birmingham, designed the Sewage Lamp, a device that transformed sewage into biogas for lighting streetlamps.

In the 1960s, both India and China initiated the development of small biogas digesters tailored for farmers. Due to the increase in the cost of fossil fuels during the 1970s, industrial anaerobic digestion plants gained more popularity and efficiency.

anaerobic digestion plants were also used as a method for treating municipal wastewater before the emergence of chemical treatments. In the developing world, the anaerobic process is still acknowledged as an affordable and natural alternative to chemicals, playing a crucial role in reducing dysentery.


Biogas Production Process

The Biogas production process is not complex. The whole process is pretty much similar to the human food digestion process. The first step includes feeding the organic waste which can be kitchen waste, food waste, animal manure, or waste from farming fields to the digester using an inlet waste feed pipe.

After that, the waste goes through the anaerobic process in the digester. In the absence of oxygen, the microbes break down the solid waste, resulting in the release of gas and a semi-liquid slurry called digestate.  

After this breakdown, the gas is generated and held in the gas holder, from there it can be released using a gas delivery system, and the slurry is usually released through an outlet pipe.

The slurry produced in this step is rich in nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) making ita great alternative to chemical fertilizers (DAP).

Type of waste that can be used to generate Biogas

Biogas can be made with any type of organic waste. A biogas plant can operate on agricultural waste, animal manure, food waste, and sewage.  Although any organic waste can be used to make biogas the production and composition of gases can vary depending on the type of waste fed to the plant.

Not all types of waste can produce the same level of methane due to which the composition of biogas can vary. For instance, poultry litter contains higher levels of methane than cow dung and can produce biogas that can be more combustible. However, due to the high ammonia content in the litter it needs to go through an extra step of ammonia stripping to make it suitable for feeding in the plant.

Similarly, waste from the food industry or food waste can be considered a better raw material for the biogas production process but due to higher and easier availability animal manure is largely used for.


Biogas plant usage

A biogas plant comes up as a possible solution to provide multiple benefits like biogas, electricity, bio-CNG, rich quality manure, etc. A biogas plant has multiple purposes, Firstly, these plants produce biogas that can be used as an alternative to LPG, after minor adjustments it can be used as fuel for gensets in the place of diesel for power generation, or it can further be compressed to obtain Bio-CNG a renewable source of energy that can be used to replace other carbon-emitting non-renewable fuels used for purposes like transportation, cooking, right now.

Other than producing gases, these plants produce a semi-solid slurry called ‘Digestate’ which can be used as an organic fertilizer for crops.


Advantages of a Biogas plant

The primary advantages of biogas plants are linked to environmental benefits, as they generate renewable energy for both domestic and industrial purposes. This renewable energy can be supplied to the power grid, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and subsequently lowering carbon footprints.

Since the use of Biogas reduces our reliance on fossil fuels this in turn decreases greenhouse gas emissions. These greenhouse emissions are not the only emissions that biogas controls. Simultaneously, the creation of biogas collects waste from the food industry and the farming community which otherwise would’ve ended up being dumped in the landfills. Decreasing the greenhouse emissions even further.

This whole step of preventing the waste from being dumped in landfills also helps in managing the odour, decreasing the chances of diseases, and protecting water bodies from pollution.

Biogas plants also help to eradicate the use of synthetic fertilizers. The byproduct received from biogas plants is called digestate which is rich in Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. This digestate works as an excellent fertilizer for crop growth, depleting the need for chemical fertilizers.


Types of Biogas Plant

Although they fulfill the same purpose which is the generation of biogas from organic material or biomass they can be installed in different sizes and can be used for different purposes.

The most common bifurcation that we can see between the types of biogas plants is the size and usage of a plant. The type of biogas plants can be:

a. Commercial Biogas Plant (Medium And Large Scale)

b. Domestic Biogas Plant


a. Commercial Biogas Plant

commercial biogas plant

In Industries where the amount of organic waste is generated in tons there a commercial Biogas plant can be used to transform the waste into biogas.

These biogas plants are generally used to fulfill the energy requirement and to cutdown the cost of electricity being used from the grid. The biogas generated from large-scale plants, which are in large amounts can be further purified to produce Bio CNG an alternative to vehicular fuels.  

These plants can also be installed in large-scale poultry farms, gaushalas, Piggery farms, etc. wherever there is a large amount of animal manure produced daily.

b. Domestic Biogas Plants

domestic Biogas Plant

Domestic Biogas plants or small-scale biodigesters are the plants that are generally installed for a single family or a small community where the amount of organic waste generated is generally low.

These biogas plants can also be installed in gaushalas with 4-5 cows or in a society where these plants can be powered using food waste.


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To conclude what is a biogas plant? It is Nature’s recycling machine that converts the organic waste into useful biogas that can be used to replace non-renewable energy sources like LPG, and petrol and can lead us to a sustainable future.


Although India was an early adopter of biogas production we still lag in being the world leader in biogas energy production. To harness the full potential of biogas and its environmental benefits, we must prioritize ongoing investments, research, and sustainable practices. Moving forward, it is important that we commit to the further development and widespread adoption of biogas technology, Helping us move closer to cleaner and eco-friendly energy for our planet.