India is experiencing energy crisis and a widening gap between energy supply and demand. The country is, however, endowed with considerable, commercially and technically available renewable resources, from which surplus agro-biomass is of great importance and a relatively untapped resource. In the policy making process, knowledge of existing biomass use, degree of social reliance, and degree of biomass availability for energy production is unequivocal and pre-conditional. Field observations, documentation, and fill-in sheet tools were used to investigate the potential of biomass resources and the existing domestic, commercial, and industrial uses of biomass in selected Indian states. To do so, a team of field observers/supervisors visited three Indian states namely: Maharashtra (MH), Madhya Pradesh (MP), and Tamil Nadu (TN). Two districts from each state were selected to collect data regarding the use of biomass and the extent of biomass availability for energy production. In total, 471 farmers were interviewed, and approximately 75 farmers with various land holdings have been interviewed in each district. The existing uses of biomass have been documented in this survey study and the results show that the majority of biomass is used as fodder
for domestic livestock followed by in-site ploughing, leaving trivial surplus quantities for other productive uses. Biomass for cooking appeared to be insignificant due to the availability and access to Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinders in the surveyed districts. Opportunities exist to utilize roadside-dumped biomass, in-site burnt biomass, and a share of biomass used for ploughing. The GIS-based maps show that biomass availability varies considerably across the Taluks of the surveyed districts, and is highly dependent on a number of enviromental and socio-cultural factors. Developing competitive bioenergy market and enhancing and promoting access to more LPG fuel connections seem an appropriate socio-economic and environmental approach to reduce the use of biomass for indoor cooking and increasing the share of surplus biomass for energy production.
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