Government Explores Use of Pine Needles as Biomass Substitute to Protect Forests and Promote Sustainability

Government Explores Use of Pine Needles as Biomass Substitute to Protect Forests and Promote Sustainability

Date: [6 July 2023]

The state government is taking proactive steps to devise a mechanism for utilizing pine needles and pine cones, aiming to safeguard precious forest resources while harnessing their potential as biomass. As pine trees shed their needles, the accumulated biomass poses a threat to the local ecosystem due to its combustibility, leading to forest fires that harm flora and fauna.

Pine needles, which serve as significant forest biomass materials, have implications for the local understory vegetation and contribute to forest fire incidents, which have both short-term and long-term environmental effects. However, the exploration of the constituent biopolymers present in pine needles opens up diverse possibilities for their utilization.

In a bid to combat pollution, the Centre for Innovative Technology for the Himalayan region at IIT Mandi has developed an innovative solution that utilizes pine needles as an alternative to biomass. The Centre has designed a unique machine capable of producing briquettes and pellets from pine needles. This initiative aims to address the adverse impact of pine needles on the ecology, biodiversity, and economy of the Himalayan region.

The State Government is actively supporting this project due to its sustainability features. The machine will be used to produce briquettes from pine needles, as well as other biomass sources. Collaborating with the State Government, IIT Mandi plans to establish similar plants throughout Himachal Pradesh.

Moreover, pine needle-based briquettes are environmentally friendly as they contain significantly less sulphur and other harmful elements compared to traditional fuels. Given the abundance of pine cones in the Himachal region, their easy combustibility can contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions caused by the toxic gases emitted by fossil fuels.

Chief Minister Thakur Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu highlighted the potential of pine needle briquettes as substitutes for fossil fuels in various sectors such as thermal power, cement, and steel, aiming to reduce emissions. These briquettes possess a higher calorific value, presenting an opportunity to strengthen the rural economy.

Additionally, the government plans to initiate a pilot project for bio-energy production from pine needles and bamboo, taking advantage of the state’s vast conifer forests and significant bamboo production potential.

The government’s efforts to utilize pine needles as a substitute for biomass not only mitigate the ecological challenges posed by these needles but also contribute to environmental sustainability and the prosperity of rural communities.

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