Biomass Sources in India


India possesses a rich array of biomass assets. These renewable natural substances preserve tremendous capability for generating energy, lowering greenhouse gas emissions, and promoting sustainable development. In this section, we will deal with various biomass sources, their characteristics, availability, and potential usage, highlighting the importance of those assets in our renewable energy landscape.


 Agricultural Biomass

Agricultural biomass plays a substantial role in India’s renewable energy endeavour. With its vast agricultural land and diverse crop cultivation, India has abundant agricultural biomass sources. Let us look at these sources in detail.

(A) Crop Residues– Crop residues are the remnants left in the field after crop harvesting. They include diverse plant parts, such as stems, leaves, and husks.

  • Rice Straw: It is a byproduct of rice cultivation. It is traditionally used as animal feed and bedding material. It is also utilise for power generation, biofuels, and as a raw material for biogas production.
  • Wheat Straw: It is the residue left after harvesting wheat. It has potential applications in power generation and as a raw material for bioethanol production.
  • Sugarcane Bagasse: The fibrous residue left after extracting juice from sugarcane. It finds extensive use in heat and power in sugar mills and as a feedstock for bioethanol production.
  • Maize Stalks: Maize stalks are the leftover stems of maize plants after grain harvesting. They can be utilised for animal feed, biomass power generation, and as a raw material for biofuel production.
  • Cotton Stalks: The remains of cotton plants after harvesting cotton fibres. They have applications as feedstock for paper and board production, fuel for energy generation, or conversion into biochar.
  • Groundnut Shells: These are the outer coverings of groundnut kernels. They can be used as a biomass fuel, animal feed, bio-oil and biochar source.

 Forestry Biomass

Forestry biomass is organic materials derives from forest resources, including trees, shrubs, and other vegetation. It is a significant renewable energy source in India with various applications. 

These residues include branches, twigs, bark, leaves, and wood waste. Forest residues have high energy content and is utilise as fuel for power generation and heating. Woody biomass mainly compose of carbohydrates and lignin. The wood processing industry in India generates significant biomass residues. Sawdust, wood chips, and wood waste from industries like sawmills, plywood manufacturing, and furniture production can be utilized as feedstock. The residues are commonly utilized for energy production in biomass power plants or as fuel for industrial operations. 

Urban and Industrial waste

It refers to organic waste materials generated in urban areas and industrial sectors.

  •  Municipal Solid Waste (MSW): It comprises organic, paper and cardboard, wood waste, and other biodegradable materials generated from households and commercial organizations. MSW for bioenergy also represents an opportunity to reduce residential and commercial waste by diverting significant volumes from landfills to refineries. Proper segregation and management of MSW can facilitate its utilization for energy generation through processes like anaerobic digestion and combustion.
  • Industrial Residues: These are generated from various industries, including sugar mills, rice mills, and wood industries. Examples of industrial residue biomass include bagasse, which is the fibrous residue left after extracting juice from sugarcane. It is used provide heat and power in sugar mills. Rice husk, a typical industrial residue, is the outer covering of rice grains. It can be used as a biomass fuel for power generation or as a raw material for bioenergy. Sawdust and wood waste are remains generated by wood processing industries.

 Animal waste and manure

Animal waste and manure, often called livestock biomass, is a valuable organic resource derived from livestock farming activities. It is commonly used for agricultural purposes as organic fertilizer. Earlier, animal dung was used mainly as fertilizer or kitchen fuel. But today, it holds the potential to be crafted into waste-energy conversion.

Cow dung is the most common type of animal waste and is widely available in agricultural regions. Poultry litter comprises a mixture of bedding material (straw, wood shavings, or sawdust) and manure from poultry farms. It is predominantly derived from chickens and turkeys.

 Energy crops

Energy crops are specific crops grown to produce biomass to be used as a renewable energy source. These crops are preferred for their high yield, fast development, and efficient transformation into biofuels, biogas, or solid biomass. 

  • Switchgrass: Switchgrass has high biomass yield potential, requires low input, and is adaptable to different soil conditions. It can be used to produce cellulosic ethanol and solid biomass for combustion.
  • Miscanthus: It is a perennial grass that has gained popularity as an energy crop. It has high biomass productivity and low input requirements and can be harvested annually.
  • Willow: A fast-growing woody perennial that can be harvested every 2-3 years. It is used to create biomass pellets, biofuels or as a feedstock for biogas production.

 Aquatic Biomass

These organic matter are derived from aquatic or marine sources, including plants, algae, and aquatic animals.

  • Algae: These are microscopic plants found in freshwater and marine environments. They are rich in proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, and valuable compounds. Algae can grow in fresh, saline water from surface water sources, groundwater, or seawater, depending on the strain. 
  • Aquatic Plants: They can grow and produce substantial biomass. They utilize water, sunlight, and nutrients from their environment for photosynthesis, resulting in efficient biomass production. Seaweed and water hyacinth are commonly used in biofuels, fertilizers, and bioplastics applications.

Analysis for varieties of biomass fuel- all values are on a dry matter basis

(Source- AURI 2005, Preto 2010)

Analysis of biomass fuels


    Biomass classification of different sector


Biomass classification

Biomass Availability in India

About 32% of the total primary energy utilized in the country is process from biomass. About 70% of India’s population depends on it for energy requirements. India stands 4th globally in renewable energy installed capacity. The total potential for renewable energy generation as of 31.03.2022 is 14,90,727 MW. It includes around 7,48,990 MW from solar; 6,95,509 from wind; 21,134 MW from hydro; 17,538 MW from biomass; 5000 MW from bagasse; 2,556 MW from waste to energy.

   (SOURCE: – Energy Statistic India 2023)

Biomass distribution in India

It differs across various regions due to deviations in agricultural practices, land use patterns, and geographical factors. Here is a general overview of biomass distribution in India:

  1. Crop Residues: The distribution of these residues depends on the predominant agricultural practices and crop cultivation in different states. Rice straw is abundantly available in states like Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh. Wheat straw is more common in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh.
  2. Forestry Residues: States like Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu have significant forest cover and therefore contribute to the availability of forestry residues. However, the distribution of forest resources and associated biomass can vary within each state, depending on specific forest ecosystems and management practices.
  3. Animal Waste: Animal waste, primarily dung, is available throughout the country, as livestock rearing is widespread in rural and urban areas. However, the distribution can vary based on the concentration of livestock populations. Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Bihar typically have a more significant availability of animal waste.
  4. Energy Crops: The distribution of energy crops can vary depending on climate suitability, land availability, and market demand. States like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab, and Tamil Nadu have seen the cultivation of energy crops like eucalyptus, poplar, sweet sorghum, and Napier grass for biomass purposes.
  5. Municipal Solid Waste: Biomass derived from municipal solid waste (MSW) is available in urban areas nationwide. Cities and towns generate significant amounts of organic waste, which can be utilise for biomass-based energy production. The distribution of MSW biomass is related to the population density and waste generation rates in different urban centres.

Top States: Renewable Energy Potential 31.03.2022


Estimated Potential Of Renewable Energy In India during 2021- 2022

(SOURCE- – Energy Statistic 2023)