The Telegraph of Calcutta reports that the Indian government is likely to announce a comprehensive policy for the use of B20 biodiesel (20% biodiesel) in the country by August.
The Planning Commission has already submitted a detailed report to the ministry of rural development, which will now work towards placing the proposals before the cabinet.
Says R. Mandal, adviser, Planning Commission, “The use of bio-diesel blends will result in a savings of Rs 20,000 crore [US$4.6 billion] annually on imports of crude oil. We are planning to produce 13 million tonnes of alternate fuel every year. However, this will require 11 million hectares of land [42,471 square miles—approximately the size of Virginia] and create 11 million jobs.”
Jatropha appears to be the feedstock of choice because of its ability to thrive under a variety of geo-climatic conditions, its low gestation period and its high seed yield.
Around 10 lakh hectares (3,861 square miles—an area 1.5 times the size of Delaware) of land across the country has been identified for Jatropha plantations. (A picture of one early plantations is to the right.)
India currently imports more than 70% of its crude oil. The government is not only looking to stabilize its energy sources and reduce its outbound payments; it hopes to become a global sourcing hub for both feedstock and processed bio-diesel. The industry is expected to be a US$2-billion revenue earner within the next three years.
“Bio-diesel processing cost in India is almost one-third of that in European countries and the US,” says C. S. Jadhav, director (marketing) of Hyderabad-based Nandan Biomatrix, one of the first companies carrying out extensive research in bio-diesel.