Policy

Biofuels are socio economic change agents Nitin Gadkari

Speaking at a CII roundtable Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said biofuels can be as socio-economic change agents as it would address crucial issues of farmer suicides agri surpluses in the sugar wheat and rice industries and fuel economy
Biofuels are socio economic change agents Nitin Gadkari

Speaking at the Biofuels Roundtable-2015, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry in New Delhi on April 15, 2015, Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road, Transport and Highways and Shipping, said, “Biofuels can be as socio-economic change agents as it would address crucial issues of farmer suicides, agri surpluses in the sugar, wheat and rice industries and fuel economy. Higher use of biofuels will directly help reduce petrol and diesel imports which are at about Rs 6 lakh crores.”

Reiterating the importance of biofuels, he said, “Biofuels are an alternative to our agricultural problems. Diversification of agriculture towards energy is very essential for the for rural and agricultural economy.”
 
Citing an example where technology innovation has led to employment creation, he said, “Conversion of biomass and biowaste to pellets can be a good option for gas and can give employment. One of the projects which has been implemented in Nagpur entails using cotton stalk and segregating municipal waste for making pellets. Today, we have 12 factories employing 15,000 youth which are making the pellets. These pellets are being used in 1000 restaurants with special stoves.”
 
Mentioning another technological innovation in the area of biogas, he said, “In Stockholm in Sweden, methane is being taken from sewage water to make bio-CNG which is being used to run buses. For this, we are also forming a joint venture company to produce bio-CNG.”
                                                                                    
Emphasising the opportunity in this segment, the minister said, “There is an opportunity to convert existing busses to run on electric power or biofuels. Now is the time for us to convert our transport particularly in metros to biofuels or electric which will result in huge savings of fuels and give a good internal rate of return.”
 
Highlighting a pioneering initiative, he said, The Haldia port started manufacturing 3 lakh liters per day of biodiesel which was being used in trucks and railway engines. It is the first green port in India where we will use only biodiesel.”
 
Stressing on the need to focus on technological innovations, Dr Renu Swarup, Senior Adviser, Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India said, “R&D has been given a special place in the biofuels policy. If a country like India, with the largest diversity and quantity of biomass, cannot have sufficient ethanol to meet its targets, there is cause for concern.  The answer lies in new technologies and while there are technologies ready, the challenge lies in the feedstock options. We need to experiment our technologies on a variety of feedstock. Commercial plants need to be set up with multi feedstock options.”

Stressing on the importance of the use of alternate fuels in transport, Dr PS Anand Rao, Executive Director, Association of State Road, Transport Undertakings (ASRTU) said, “The best tool to fight vehicular pollution is ethanol as it contains 35 percent oxygen and reduces particulate and CO2 emissions. Ethanol can reduce emissions by as much as 75 percent and can also result in savings in fuel cost of US $149.2 billion.”
 
Discussing the impact of vehicular emissions, VK Srivastava, Additional Director, PCRA, Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, said, “Road transport is the biggest GHG producing segment accounting for about 64 percent of the diesel consumption in India. A 50 percent cut in GHG emissions/mile is feasible by 2030 from conventional technologies and biofuels.”
 
Setting the context Dr AK Dhussa, Former Adviser, Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, Government of India said, “There is a large potential for bioenergy, in general-36,000 MW generation possibility and 107 million tonnes of biofuels which is enough to replace about 80 percent of product consumption for transportation. Benefits of Rs 2 crores accrue for every 3000 tonnes of biofuels used. Recently in a key policy decision, bio-CNG has also been approved as a transport fuel.” He further added that to ensure adequate availability of ethanol, support is required for pre-commercial projects based on indigenous technologies for ethanol production. 

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