Kolkata: Beginning from March, India’s first bus to run on bio-gas will ply on the streets of Kolkata, ferrying passengers on 12 different routes of the city.
An alternative energy company, Phoenix India Research and Development Group, has been selected by the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy for kick-start the use of bio-gas vehicles in West Bengal.
“We are one of the prime companies working in the field of renewable energy. Our speciality is to produce bio-gas at the lowest price to middle class households in addition to creating employment,” said Jyoti Prakash Das, chairman and managing director of Phoenix.
The company plans to have bio-gas plants in all districts of the state by 2020.
“Biogas is produced from animal and plant waste and principally consists of methane. It is a non-toxic, colourless and flammable gas that can be used as fuel for vehicles, cooking and generating electricity,” Das said.
The company wants to supply bio-gas cylinders to distributors in the state. Under the plan, residents would be able to get their cooking gas for just Rs300 (Dh16.22).
Phoenix is keen to start the bus services soon and will charge passengers one rupee irrespective of distance travelled.
The twelve buses that will ply on the city roads will have seating capacity of 60 and will cost the company Rs1.3 million per vehicle.
The vehicles will have a fuel capacity of 80kg and can run up to 1,600km on a full tank.
The Kolkata route is a trial run and the company hopes to expand its fleet in the near future, officials said.
“The buses will ply 20km on a kilogramme of biogas, which costs around Rs30. Hence we will be able to reduce the fare drastically and it would probably be the lowest transportation cost in anywhere in the world. In spite of charging so little, our margins will be higher in comparison to other operators using diesel fuel,” said an official.
Phoenix has set up a bio-gas plant in Dubrajpur of Birbhum district which is about 260km from Kolkata and can produce 1,000kg of the gas which will be transport to Kolkata by tankers. The company has got the permission to set up 100 bio-gas fuel pumps.
“In future, we are certain many private and commercial vehicles will also convert to bio-gas and hence these pumps will be useful,” Das said.
Biogas can be the answer to the renewable energy needs of the state and if implemented properly not will it will reduce carbon emissions, but will also ensure huge employment generation for the people of the state. The main ingredient of bio-gas is cow dung and the company is sourcing it from villagers who are selling it at Rs2 per kilogramme.
What is biogas?
Biogas is a mixture of different gases produced by breaking down of organic matter without the presence of oxygen.
Biogas can be produced from raw materials such as agricultural waste, manure, municipal waste, plant material, sewage, green waste or food waste. Biogas is a renewable energy source and in many cases exerts a very small carbon footprint.