Turning Human Waste into Renewable Energy: Opportunities and Policy Options for India

Sacchidananda MUKHERJEE, Debashis CHAKRABORTY


Abstract. With rise in population and the ongoing urbanisation drive, the urge to ensure energy security both for the rural and urban areas has emerged as a major challenge in India. The demand for energy has increased in all spheres of life, e.g., for cooking, cultivation, production purposes, transportation, and so on. Although through various government initiatives, adoption of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for cooking has increased, given the vast population, use of biofuels is expected to continue for poorer households. Generation of biogas from cattle waste in India has intensified through policies, but the same from human waste is still in a nascent stage. The present study explores the possibilities of recovering energy and nutrients from human wasteby discussing the present system of human waste collection, treatment and disposal in India, followed by the reasons behind the failures of the past initiatives (e.g., Ganga Action Plan, GAP). It further focuses on a few alternative systems and their technical feasibility. It is concluded that various ongoing policies, viz., National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ (SBM)- should be coordinated for integrating collection and treatment of human waste for generation of renewable energy.

Keywords. Human waste management, Urban wastewater management, Renewable energy, Resource recovery, Biogas generation, Public health management, Government policy, Technology adoption, Energy policy, India.

JEL. I18, Q40, Q48.


Human waste management; Urban wastewater management; Renewable energy; Resource recovery; Biogas generation; Public health management; Government policy; Technology adoption; Energy policy; India.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1453/ter.v3i4.1099


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