Pine needle power projects

Why is it in the news?

  • The bio-energy projects established by the Uttarakhand Renewable Energy Development Agency (UREDA) to generate electricity from pine needles have been deemed “unsuccessful” due to the lack of sustainable technology.

More about the news

  • The State’s efforts to mitigate forest fire risks by reducing the accumulation of pine needles have been insufficient, with the severity of annual fires exacerbated by climate change and the presence of organic biomass.
·        The Supreme Court criticized the Uttarakhand government for its handling of forest fires in response to petitions filed after the incidents.
  • In 2021, the State government announced a scheme to establish power projects using pine needles as fuel, but only six out of the expected 58 units have been set up.
  • In 2023, the government failed to meet its renewable power purchase obligations due to the underperformance of pine needle projects.
  • Although the abundance of pine needles in Uttarakhand presents a valuable resource, only a small fraction is currently being collected.
  • Challenges such as steep forest slopes, vulnerability to animal attacks, and a shortage of labour at reasonable wages contribute to the low collection rate.
  • According to the experts, strategic collection of pine needles, along with raising the procurement price and clearing areas close to roads and habitations, can make a significant difference in preventing forest fires.

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