Biodiesel : a new wave

The following is an extract from The Sunday Express, 1 October 2006.

Entrepreneurs are investing big bucks in biodiesel, even the President has endorsed the fuel of the future. But where is the policy that will help India ride the jatropha wave?

….The government has been slow to match the entrepreneurial enthusiasm on the green fuel extracted from jatropha curcus seeds. And with the long-overdue National Biodiesel Policy still to be formulated, there just aren’t enough jatropha seeds available in the country to get the private sector plants up and running.

This has led to a strange situation on the ground. On one hand, entrepreneurs are setting up transesterification plants, which will convert jatropha seeds into oil that can be blended with diesel or used neat to run cars, trains and gensets. But, in the absence of viable jatropha supplies and escalating crude oil prices, most entrepreneurs are now depending on other vegetable oil or waste oil to employ in their plants; some are even willing to import expensive palm oil from Malaysia. ….

….Several arguments were made for jatropha when the first committee on the development of biofuel, chaired by N D Tiwari, submitted its report in April 2003. One, it would reduce the massive crude oil import bill (Rs 19,000 crore every year), two, it would put India’s vast wastelands (55 million hectares) into use. And three, it would provide employment to millions of farmers.

But with plants running on imported vegetable oil instead of homegrown, low-maintenance jatropha, biodiesel is not turning out to be the wonder it was touted to be….

….For all the evident enthusiasm, however, there’s still a vital role that only the government can play. There are nearly 300 varieties of jatropha in India and research needs to be conducted to select the maximum-yield seeds.

There has been some research but not enough. TERI plans to demonstrate the economics of biofuels with its 8,000 hectares under jatropha in Andhra Pradesh which will attain ‘seed-to-oil’ capacity in the next four years. The University of Hohenheim has been developing diesel blends in collaboration with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), which have been tested on Mercedes Benz C-class cars….

For the full article see link:

  • Running on empty – IE


  • Playing the field: Entrepreneurs who have entered the biodiesel wave

    D1 Oil plc.
    Newcastle-based firm has 10,000 hectares of jatropha in India, and plans to hit 1 lakh hectares in Tamil Nadu alone

    Reliance Industries Ltd
    200 acres of land at Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh, besides projects elsewhere

    Emami
    Plans Rs 15 billion bio-diesel plant at Haldia. To use palm oil as raw material initially

    Godrej Agrovet
    Plans to invest Rs 5 billion in bio-fuel plant cultivation in Gujarat and Mizoram. Will also set up processing plants in Gujarat

    British Petroleum: $9.4 bn in TERI jatropha project

    Vinod Khosla: Venture capitalist has invested Rs 117 crore in Praj Industries’ biofuel project

    Elsewhere…

    Richard Branson: $350 million in ethanol to fly aircraft

    US Government: $160million for pilot biofuel plant

    Bill Gates: $84 million in Pacific Ethanol

    One comment

    1. Today, but on account of distortion by clever
      marketing and spin, cultural entrepreneurship
      often means just about anything.

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