Following the launch of the first biogas-powered bus in the UK two years ago, the country of India will also be debuting their own this coming March. As per reports, 12 buses are expected to hit 12 routes in Kolkata, including Ultadanga to Tollygunge and Ultadanga to V (Salt Lake). The other nine routes are still being finalised.
Particularly, biogas comes from plant and animal waste and mainly consists of methane. It is a flammable yet non-toxic gas that can be used not only to fuel vehicles but also to generate electricity. Sometimes, it can also be utilised for cooking.
“Biogas is the cheapest fuel,” said Jyoti Prakash Das, the chairman and managing director of Phoenix India Research and Development Group, which is the alternative energy company that has been selected to promote the use of biogas vehicles in the state of Bengal. “The lowest bus fare from Ultadanga to Garia is Rs 12 (AUD 0.243), but we will bring it down to R 1 (AUD 0.02). We can offer it and still have a margin that is enjoyed by the normal operators using diesel. All other parameters of performance such as vehicle speed will be the same as normal buses,” he added.
The buses are currently being designed and developed in Delhi. In terms of performance, they can travel 20 km on a single kilogram of biogas, which only costs Rs 30 (AUD 0.607). This then explains why the fare costs are low. The vehicles will have a 60-seater capacity and an 80 kg capacity tank that will allow them to run 1,600 km on a full tank. Tata Motors chassis are also integrated into the said vehicles. Unfortunately, though, they can’t be fitted with AC machines.
According to sources, once the pilot run is successful, the ministry will already plan the introduction of this latest technology on a much bigger scale.