“We are working over upstream-downstream activities of all kinds of biomass fuel, right from sourcing of the right quality fuel to handling ash and looking at a circular economy wherein we are also working on if we cannot dispose ash but utilize it back in form of bricks or others. We are working on a biogas solution wherein we are setting up a 5 TPD plant for Bio-CNG which involves rice stubble that used to get burned and pollutes the environment. We will convert that through an anaerobic digester into Biogas”. - Khushboo Bhatia, CEO, Thermax Onsite Energy Solutions Ltd.
In the Sustainable Circular Economy Series – Doing Well by Doing Good conducted by ProMFG in collaboration with BiofuelCircle, Khushboo Bhatia shared her insights and best practices that have been implemented within the company to create an ecosystem of sustainability and circular economy.
Question: Could you briefly explain the technological evolution of Thermax's solutions for the use of green fuels and Bioenergy?
TOESL has partnered with Aditya Birla Group, ITC, and Marico in their journey towards sustainability. It's really interesting to know about the fiber with less water with waste management that Marico has undertaken, and the Bio-CNG initiative at BPCL. In the same light, Thermax believes in a better business, better world, right, with the current situation that we are in, it is very clear that we are a planet with global citizens and interconnected geographies. Thermax has been a front runner; we operate in 88 countries 14 plants about 300 patents. We have been a front runner to provide renewable sustainable solutions. We have a tie-up with Lambion Germany, where we develop combustors that can fire a variety of biomass fuels. We have about 150 solid fuels experienced already. Thermax Onsite Energy Solutions Limited was conceptualized and incepted about 10 years ago in 2009 within Thermax and the reason why it was carved out is that we wanted to do build-on and operate solutions but only in the green space, so our mandate is only, renewable, sustainable, biomass and biofuels space with built-on and operate. Because we wanted to ensure that while we supply the utilities, the customer can free up their capital and invest in the process. And later we also realized that sustainability is easier if you have some financial incentives or financial support. TOESL is running about 30 sites, including our journey into Southeast Asia now. And we have technologies and we are working over upstream-downstream activities of all kinds of biomass fuel, right from sourcing the right quality fuel to handling ash and looking at a circular economy. We are also working on if we cannot dispose of ash but utilize it back in form of bricks etc. The second new solution that we are working on is the biogas solution to Bio-CNG solution wherein we are setting up a 5 TPD plant for Bio-CNG, which involves rice stubble that used to get burned and pollutes the environment. We will convert that into biogas through an anaerobic digester. Other than these, innovative technologies like hydrogen fuel cells, green hydrogen are in the progress. In recent years, India has developed more efficient and cost-effective technologies on renewable space. Of course, we are also working on rooftop and solar, where we have about 60 megawatts of installations.
Question: TOESL offers solutions to a range of industries from sustainability and energy-mix perspective, how is the ecosystem evolving towards the use of Biofuel?
We are seeing a higher acceptance in demand of biomass-based fuels right from FMCG to the pharma sector, where some of these utilities like steam power and water are very critical to the process, but we have witnessed a shift in perception as well as acceptance of these fuels. Now, although the energy mix is evolving, progress is a long way to go. It is still slow in my mind, right? We just look at India, right? The IEA recently launched its report. So we still see the power in the industry to be the biggest carbon emitters in the country. By 2030, India will be the third-largest energy consumer in the world. So, we would need to fast-track this energy shift. We are seeing very key developments as well like refineries were running on oil and gas. But we are seeing them search for co-firing solutions for furnaces. Third, in the case of transportation, we see a lot of work in that segment as well, whether it's the vehicles, hydrogen, or bio-CNG. So it is under development and Thermax is also doing its bit in terms of the Bio-CNG plant, which will be our first plant, and we will take it forward from that. Our research and development team is also working on other technologies.