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Biomass from rice husks – a new renewable energy source

Men loading a lorry
(Photo: Land Rover Our Planet/

Project Activity

In the production of rice, huge quantities of biomass arise, providing a potential energy source that largely goes unused. With over 300 rice mills and annual rice production of approximately nine million tons, the Indian state of Punjab is the country’s granary and harbours huge biomass reserves as a result. To put these reserves to good use, a rice-powered facility was constructed in the Punjab town of Ludhiana. The 3.5 MW capacity biomass plant is designed to supply electricity to a factory run by Indian yarn and thread manufacturer Oswal Woolen Mills Limited (OWML), whose electricity demand had previously been supplied by the Punjabi grid. To generate the electricity, rice husks from the local region are transported to the plant. From the silo, which holds enough biomass reserves to power the factory for three days, the rice husks are carried to an incinerator on conveyor belts. The facility uses technology made in India and has a lifecycle of 25 years. This means it will stay in operation after the ten-year performance period of the actual CDM project.

Current Situation and Expected Emission Reductions

To calculate the emission reductions achieved under the project, the project emissions are compared with those to be expected had the project not been implemented. In the event that the project were not implemented, it could be expected that the Oswal Woolen Mill would continue to receives its electricity from the coal-fired, carbon-intensive Indian grid. Operation of the biomass power plant is carbon neutral because the carbon is absorbed at the same rate in subsequently planted rice plants as that in which rice is harvested and the husks are burnt. If the annual amounts of electricity produced in the biomass facility were to be taken from the state grid, emissions in the amount of 22,267 tCO2e would occur. These can be prevented by use of the biomass plant.

Without the CDM, the project could not have been implemented. This is due, among other things, to the lack of sufficient state-provided incentives to promote the use of biomass plants in the textiles industry. Also, potential investors often shy away from the high investment costs and fear that biomass will become more expensive in the future, making the project unviable. This situation changes with project implementation under the CDM: possible fluctuation in raw material prices can be compensated for with the revenue accrued in the sale of project-generated emissions certificates, so securing the project’s future in difficult times.

Verifying Emission Reductions

According to UNFCCC rules, the emission reductions achieved with a project should not only be calculated before implementation. They also require that the emission reductions be monitored over the project’s entire lifecycle. Because the Indian biomass project has been registered as a CDM small-scale project, a simplified monitoring process applies. Two separate electricity meters record both the generated and the consumed biomass energy, while the volume of rice husks used is identified from suppliers’ invoices and by measuring the contents of the silo. The data are verified by means of an internal control system and are documented electronically.

Project Implementation: Current Status

The project was registered by the CDM Executive Board in December 2005 with the reference number 0118. The first emissions certificates were issued in October of the following year. Some 64,462 CERs were issued for the period 2006 to 2009. Issuance of a further 42,905 CERs was approved in March 2012.

Project Type:

CDM Small Scale

Project Partners:

India: Oswal Woolen Mills Limited (OWML)
Germany: KfW (Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau)


Renewable energy

Project Location:

Ludhiana, Punjab, India

Project Lifecycle:

10 years (non-extendable) 10.12.2005 – 9.12. 2015

Expected Emission Reductions:

22,267 tCO2e/year

Project Status:

Registered, running

Point of Contact:

KfW Bankengruppe
Palmengartenstr. 5-9
60325 Frankfurt
Fax +49 (0)69 74314775