Speaking at the EC’s International Conference on Biofuels in Brussels (earlier post), India’s New and Renewable Energy Minister Vilas Muttemvar said that his country’s national biofuels policy will “likely be in place in a few months time from now.”
The program will mandate a 5% renewable component in fuels by 2012, increasing to 10% by 2017, with higher levels to come thereafter. The program will also establish minimum support prices for jatropha and other non-edible oilseeds. Nine states and the Union Territory already have 5% ethanol blending in gasoline.
The policy, said Minister Muttemvar, has to balance food security and energy security.
We cannot afford the conversion of cereals and other foods to ethanol, or use edible oils for biodiesel as is being proposed in some countries.—Minister Muttemvar
For biodiesel, India’s current feedstock of choice is jatropha, and the country is undertaking a massive expansion of jatropha cultivation for biofuel purposes.
India’s current feedstock for ethanol production is mainly molasses, and the country has sufficient supplies from its sugar industry to meet the 5% target, Muttemvar said. However, to increase the blending proportion to 10%, the country will need to develop cellulosic ethanol capabilities.
Research and development has been mounted on such feedstock [lignocellulosic biomass] and production.—Minister Muttemvar
Muttemvar said that India looked forward to working with the European Union and all participating countries to achieve its biofuel goals. India’s priorities for co-operation include work on increasing crop yields and the oil content of oilseeds, and on reducing the environmental impact of biofuel use.