The world is facing a growing demand for clean and sustainable energy sources. Compressed Biogas (CBG), a renewable fuel derived from organic waste, is emerging as a promising solution. In India, with its vast agricultural resources and growing focus on environmental sustainability, CBG plants hold immense potential. This article explores the legality, regulations, and procedures involved in establishing a CBG plant in India.

What is a CBG Plant?

A CBG plant, also known as a Compressed Biogas plant, is a facility dedicated to transforming organic waste materials into a clean-burning fuel alternative - Compressed Biogas (CBG). Let's delve deeper into the process and the components that make a CBG plant function:

The Anaerobic Digestion Process:

The heart of a CBG plant lies in a process called anaerobic digestion. This is a natural biological process where microorganisms break down organic matter in an oxygen-free environment. Here's a breakdown of the key steps:

  1. Feedstock Preparation: Organic waste materials like agricultural residue (straw, stalks), animal manure, sewage sludge, and food waste are collected and pre-treated. Pre-treatment may involve size reduction, mixing with water, and adjusting the pH level to optimize the digestion process.
  2. Digester: The pre-treated feedstock enters a large, airtight container called a digester. Here, the anaerobic microorganisms feast on the organic matter, releasing biogas as a byproduct. The digester maintains specific temperature and moisture conditions to ensure optimal microbial activity.
  3. Biogas Production: The biogas produced is a mixture of various gases, primarily methane (CH4), which is the main component of natural gas. However, it also contains carbon dioxide (CO2), hydrogen sulfide (H2S), water vapor, and other trace components.
  4. Biogas Upgradation: The raw biogas from the digester isn't directly usable as fuel. It needs to be upgraded to CBG by removing impurities. This typically involves a multi-stage process that removes CO2, H2S, and water vapor. Depending on the technology employed, other purification methods like pressure swing adsorption (PSA) or membrane separation might be used.
  5. Compression: The purified biogas, rich in methane, is then compressed using high-pressure pumps. This significantly reduces its volume, making it easier to store and transport. The resulting compressed gas is CBG, a clean-burning fuel with properties similar to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).

Components of a CBG Plant:

  • Feedstock Receiving and Storage: This section receives, stores, and pre-treats the organic waste materials used as feedstock.
  • Digester System: This comprises the digester tanks, where the anaerobic digestion process takes place. Multiple digesters may be present depending on the plant's capacity.
  • Biogas Upgradation Unit: This section houses the equipment responsible for removing impurities from the raw biogas and producing CBG.
  • Compression Unit: This section utilizes high-pressure pumps to compress the purified biogas into CBG.
  • Storage and Distribution: The CBG is stored in high-pressure tanks before being distributed for use as fuel in vehicles or injected into the natural gas grid.
  • Control and Monitoring System: A sophisticated system constantly monitors and controls various parameters like temperature, pressure, and feedstock flow within the plant for efficient operation.

Benefits of CBG Plant:

The benefits of CBG plants are multifaceted, offering advantages for the environment, economy, and agriculture. Here's a breakdown of these key areas:

Environmental Benefits:

Waste Management: CBG plants divert organic waste from landfills, a major environmental concern. Landfills contribute to methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas. By using organic waste as feedstock, CBG plants significantly reduce waste and methane emissions.

Renewable Energy Source: CBG is a clean-burning fuel derived from renewable resources like agricultural residues and food waste. This reduces dependence on fossil fuels and their associated environmental impacts like air and water pollution.

Reduced Emissions: Compared to traditional fuels like gasoline or diesel, CBG combustion produces significantly lower emissions of harmful pollutants like particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur oxides. This translates to cleaner air and improved public health.

Economic Benefits:

Job Creation: Establishing and operating CBG plants creates employment opportunities in rural areas, particularly in agriculture-dependent regions. This contributes to rural development and economic growth.

Energy Security: By promoting domestic production of clean fuel, CBG plants reduce reliance on imported fossil fuels, enhancing India's energy security.

Waste-to-Wealth Conversion: CBG plants transform waste materials into a valuable resource - clean fuel. This creates a new revenue stream for waste generators and incentivizes sustainable waste management practices.

Agricultural Benefits:

Improved Soil Health: The digestate, a byproduct of the CBG production process, is a nutrient-rich organic fertilizer. This can be used to improve soil fertility and reduce dependence on chemical fertilizers, promoting sustainable agricultural practices.

Increased Crop Yields: The use of digestate as fertilizer can contribute to improved crop yields, leading to increased agricultural productivity.

Management of Agricultural Waste: CBG plants offer a viable solution for managing agricultural residues like straw and stalks, which can pose challenges for traditional disposal methods like burning, a contributor to air pollution.

In essence, CBG plants offer a win-win solution. They address environmental concerns by promoting sustainable waste management and clean energy generation. Additionally, they contribute to economic growth by creating jobs and fostering waste-to-wealth conversion. In the agricultural sector, CBG plants improve soil health, increase crop yields, and provide a sustainable way to manage agricultural waste.

Documents Required for Biogas or Gobar Gas Plant Setup:

A Biogas or CBG Plant Setup utilizing biomass as its raw material must adhere to the regulations outlined in the 2016 Solid Waste Management Rules. To obtain Solid Waste Management Authorization from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the following documents are required:

1. Site Clearance from the Local Authority: This letter, issued by the local governing body such as the municipality or municipal corporation, confirms the allocation of land for the CBG Plant Setup.

2. Environmental Clearance: If the plant utilizes common municipal solid waste as organic matter, a copy of environmental clearance is necessary for recycling operations.

3. Consent to Establishment (CTE): Prior to setting up a Gobar Gas Plant in India, Consent to Establishment must be obtained from the State Pollution Control Board.

4. Consent to Operate (CTO): CTO, granted by the State Pollution Control Board, must be secured at least thirty days before commencing operations at the site.

5. Returns: Submission of details regarding the anticipated returns from the plant to the CPCB is required prior to obtaining Solid Waste Management Authorization.

6. Reports: A comprehensive report on solid waste management practices must be submitted to the CPCB, aiding in their assessment of the competency of the business for authorization.

7. Land Ownership Documents: Documentation confirming ownership of the land, such as Land Records, Rent Agreements, Lease Deeds, or Purchase Receipts, should be provided.

8. Site Selection Committee Permission: Permission granted by the District Level Site Selection Committee must be included in the application.

9. Annual Report: For renewal applications, an annual report on solid waste management activities from the previous year should be submitted along with the application.

10. Approval: If another party is involved, the approval is granted to the operator of the solid waste processing facility, particularly if it's operated by a private entity.

11. Process Flow Diagram: The application must include a detailed depiction of the processes employed within the plant, along with relevant technical specifications.

12. PESO Licence: Issued by the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO), this license ensures adherence to standards in processes concerning the production and processing of explosive materials. In this context, biogas qualifies as such material.

Additional licenses necessary for setting up a Biogas plant are classified based on various stages and requirements:

Before Operation:

  • Approval issuance: Requires the issuance of approval.
  • Land conversion to Non-Agricultural (applicable for non-industrial land): Involves registration and conversion.

After Operation:

  • Fire: A Fire NOC license is crucial.
  • Safety & Health standards: Obligatory license.


  • Health & Safety: Demands a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) and renewal of licenses.

Component of Land Conversion to Non-Agricultural:

  • Accompanied by registration and conversion.
  • Not so essential or applicable for some cases.

Not Applicable:

  • Demands Consent for Establishment: Unrequired.
  • Subcontractor license: Not applicable.


  • Plan approval by IOF: Obligatory.
  • Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization (PESO) license: Obligatory.
  • BDO license: Prior consent is needed.
  • Calls for NOC, Building and Other Construction Workers (BOCW) Registration.
  • MNRE Approval: Approval of Common Facility Agreement (CFA) is needed.
  • Local Panchayat: Submission of the plan, Land Ownership Certificate (LOC), and tax-based payment for construction area, if applicable (yearly tax).

The future prospects of Biogas Plant Setup in India present several significant opportunities, with four key aspects standing out:

1. Renewable Energy Transition: As India pursues its renewable energy targets, biogas facilities offer a sustainable alternative by effectively utilizing organic waste to generate renewable energy.

2. Increased Energy Demand: With a growing population, urbanization, and industrialization, India faces a rising demand for energy. Biogas plants, utilizing organic waste sources, can contribute to meeting this demand while offering decentralized and renewable energy solutions.

3. Integration with Agriculture: Given India's substantial agricultural sector, which generates significant amounts of organic waste like crop residues and animal manure, integrating biogas plants with agriculture holds promise. This synergy allows for utilizing agricultural waste as feedstock for biogas production, aligning with government objectives such as doubling farmers' incomes, promoting sustainable agricultural practices, and creating additional revenue streams for farmers.

4. Environmental Benefits: Biogas plants not only address energy needs but also provide environmental benefits by reducing organic waste and greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to India's efforts towards a cleaner and greener future.

Cost and Fee:

The expenses associated with establishing a biogas plant in India are contingent upon its size and construction materials. Costs typically range from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 25 lakhs. A conventional biogas plant necessitates approximately 50x50 square feet of space, while a plug-in model can function adequately with just 15 square feet. Installation can be done on the rooftop or in the rear of the premises. In addition to setup expenses, operators must also account for fees associated with obtaining mandatory licenses.