The DFCD supports Humankind Group to develop biomass plants that recycles agricultural waste into green energy and biofertilizer in India

    Zeist, the Netherlands – The Dutch Fund for Climate and Development (DFCD) has approved a €350,000 grant for Humankind Group (HKG) as part of a €1.5 million development package to prepare for the construction of two biomass plants in India.

    The project has been put forward by the World Wide Fund for Nature Netherlands, which manages together with SNV Netherlands Development Organisation the DFCD’s Origination Facility to develop new projects for the investment fund.

    The grant supports HKG in completing the  groundwork for a multi-million investment. Once the project development phase is completed, the DFCD is expected to invest around €20 million in debt and equity to finance the building of the two biomass plants.

    Significant impact

    Air pollution in India is among the highest in the world and poses a serious threat to the population’s health. IN 2019, more than 1.67 millions Indians died from air pollution in 2019. The traditional burning of agricultural waste, such as  rice straw is a huge contributor. Over 100 million metric tonnes of agricultural waste is burned in India each year. This waste is valuable because it can be recycled into green energy and biofertilizer.

    HKG can create so much value out of the agricultural waste that they will pay farmers for their waste to recycle. So far, waste collection schemes struggled because it actually cost the farmers time and transportation to take their agricultural waste to collection centres.

    This approach will have significant environmental, health, social and economic impact. It will contribute substantially to climate adaptation – improved soil and water retention – and mitigation. Greenhouse gas emissions are reduced in three ways: by preventing agricultural waste burning, producing renewable energy from the waste, and returning organic content and nutrients to the soil.

    Farmers will adopt more sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices, soil health and crop yields will improve. Farmers can increase their income, while the biomass plants create jobs and new ‘green’ agricultural inputs and building materials. 

    “This project will have a significant impact. The DFCD Origination facility was designed for projects like this. This project attacks a huge and important issue in India, plus it will help the country radically change how it does business. In my opinion, this truly is a unique agriculture project.”

    Stuart Beavis, Senior Advisor Green Finance at the DFCD

    Huge potential to scale up

    The biomass technology has been successfully built and operated at a pilot facility in India, HKG is working with these partners to scale the technology to commercial-size facilities. After demonstrating success of the first two plants HKG is planning to help scale up the number of plants to 130 facilities in India in the next ten years in collaboration with the Biomass India Partnership. To indicate the need for biogas plants: the Indian Ministry of New & Renewable Energy is aiming for 5,000 facilities across the country.

    The Biomass India Partnership is a new initiative with the aspiration to become the leading Indian forum for biomass up-cycling. Biomass India is facilitating the development of programs to eliminate the practice of burning agriculture and contribute to the creation of a waste-to-value ecosystem for sustainable products that impact across a wide range of environmental, social, health and economic outcomes.

    HKG is co-founder of Biomass India along with NL Works, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, FMO, and Grameena Vikas Kendram Society for Rural Development (GVK Society). The Biomass India partnership builds on the framework of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in India and MVO Nederland under the umbrella of the INDUS Forum. HKG is advancing the development of the overall program and concurrently leading the development of the program’s founding project.

    “We believe the program we are developing in collaboration with DFCD and Biomass India has the potential to contribute importantly to the development of a new, clean industry in India that will enable the country to use its agricultural resources to transition towards a more sustainable future while also enabling large scale CO2 emission reduction and other important development impacts.”

    Ken Hollen, the CEO of HKG

    Local ownership

    HKG has signed a memorandum with  LT Foods, a leading basmati rice and consumer foods company, to join hands in setting up the first facility in Haryana by picking up an equity stake as a co-promoter with HKG. With its strong connection with the paddy farmers and commitment to environment/sustainability, LT Foods will be the preferred partner for more similar projects.

    “HKG’s competencies in nex-gen technologies are impressive and we consider HKG as a potent partner in attacking the paddy straw burning issue by satisfying all stakeholders including of course the farmers that paddy straw is not a waste – it is value. The proposed program aligns well with LT foods ongoing farmer engagement programs as well its focus on sustainability.”

    Mr. VK Arora, Chairman of LT Group

    Key impact metrics per biogas plant per year

    • 48,000 MT of waste saved from burning
    • 30,000 MWh in renewable energy – The energy consumption of 4,300 people in Delhi
    • 24,000 MT in biofertilizer and other soil improvement products
    • > 75,000 MT in reduction in CO2 emissions

    Want to know more about this project? Visit the WWF website