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Indian President Calls for 60M Tonnes of Biodiesel/Year by 2030; 50% of Current Oil Consumption

At the conference.

In a speech today to the Biodiesel Conference Towards Energy Independence, Indian President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam called for a national goal of producing 60 million tonnes of biodiesel (about 18 billion gallons US) per year by 2030. India currently consumes about 120 million tonnes of oil per year, 90% of that for transportation.

In his Independence Day address last year, the President called for energy independence by 2030 to be the country’s “first and highest priority.” (Earlier post.)

Transportation is India’s fastest-growing energy consumer. The country produces only 25% of its total requirement, and now faces an oil import bill of more than US$25 billion.

The President called for utilizing India’s wastelands for the planting of jatropha and other biodiesel crops, and asked for a short-term goal of 6 million tonnes of production by 2010, with improvements to 30 million tonnes by 2020, and then 60 million tonnes by 2030. As India has nearly 60 million hectares of wasteland, about 30 million hectares could be made available for energy plantations with an aim to produce a minimum of 2 tonnes of biodiesel per year per hectare, he said.

He outlined 11 issues or requirements that would need to be resolved or in place to be able to achieve the 60-million tonne goal:

  1. Standardized, quality, high-yielding variety hybrid seeds—obtained through intensive R&D effort—suitable for the various agro-climatic conditions in the country.

  2. Making land (wasteland, forestland, dryland, and semi-arid land—both private and public—available with minimum irrigation required for improving the yield and watershed management.

  3. Bringing small farmers together into a cooperative venture or society.

  4. Financial support from banks and venture capitalists for biodiesel entrepreneurs.

  5. Inter-cropping and value-added byproducts for increasing the revenue to the farmers.

  6. Public–private partnerships and contract farming with farmers and self-help groups.

  7. Decentralizing the supply of bio-diesel to reduce the transportation cost. R&D for modular plants with various tonnages and maximum extraction and esterification efficiency.

  8. Identification of agencies for processing Jatropha Seeds without any ambiguity and identification of professional bodies for extraction, esterification and blending.

  9. Initiatives by vehicle manufactures in incorporating appropriate modifications and redesign for using different levels of blending for optimal performance and ultimately leading to 100% biodiesel vehicle.

  10. Academic institutions, particularly agricultural Universities of different states, to support and public and private enterprises with research ranging from seed to esterification.

  11. A clear role for the Central and State governments and district authorities in promoting and facilitating the total chain of biofuel tasks.

Biodiesel is one area which can transform the scenario in the oil sector. With the limited experience of Biodiesel in the country and elsewhere, we can understand its potential and also problems associated with it. With the concerted effort in R&D both in production and processing, facilitation by government, large scale initiative from the private sector and self-help groups, hassle free financial support from financial institutions, I am sure we should be able to realize the target of achieving 60 Million tonnes per year of bio-diesel production by the year 2030.



Combine that with wind turbines and solar stirling engine generators at intervals above those crops and India could be on to something. Then mix in EV's or PRT systems.


Unlike certain presidents, I get the sense that this announcement was made with full awareness of the gravity of inactivity in the face of a global energy crunch.

Good luck to them on realizing it. We need global policy benchmarks like these to illustrate what a crappy state our priorities as a country are.

Rafael Seidl

(a) India is a parliamentary democracy. Executive power lies with the prime minister who leads a majority coalition in the legislature. The post of president is largely ceremonial, though I applaud Mr. Kalam for articulating an ambitious long-term vision for renewable fuels in India.

(b) Biodiesel is not the only renewable fuel option today, nor will it ever be. It would be wise to keep an open mind to possible improvements in other technologies such as cellulosic ethanol, EEI butanol and synthetic processes for DME and BTL production. It's always good to have a set of options rather than just one.

Besides, while biodiesel is sulphur-free and produces less PM than mineral diesel, the sheer scale of India's present and future vehicle fleet means that air quality could limit the fraction that can be permitted to drive around on diesel engines. Again, pursue multiple options.

(c) The key to a successful transition to renewable biofuels is to simultaneously contain the growth in aggregate demand for all fuels. This requires policies that secure fuel efficiency and traffic management alongside those for fuel production.

(d) Biofuel production requires not only huge tracts of land but a lot of fertilizer and especially, water. By definition, barren regions don't have a lot of that. Many villages are having to deep extremely deep well as it is, exposing some of them to high levels of arsenic. In the tropics, crop pests evolve faster than in temperate climes and Jatropha will be no exception. Heavy pesticide use would cause severe health problems among the rural poor. Picking the Jatropha seeds repotedly involves a lot of manual labor.

(e) As India ramps up production, there is also the question of what to do with all the extra glycerol produced in the transesterification process.


I still feel very strongly that we need to concentrate all our efforts on developing biodiesel with 7% alcohol. It will work in existing vehicles and our existing distribution systems.

This world is in a crisis. The American politicians are too stupid to realize it, or are being bought by big oil.

Why does it feel like treason to me?


Listen to the signals! India, a so called "third world country or emerging country" as the arrogant and ignorant "developped" western countries use to name, is setting REAL benchmark targets. Those guys have visions. And they will realize them.
And what is going on in the US as the "premier leader" of the western civilisation? hardly nothing! Instead they fight a war for oil in Irak, which costs the administration dozens of Billions of Dollars. The stock market, the dollar is declining amid inflation (rising oil prices). Trade balance is getting worse until ugly. The bottom end? One day, no foreign investor is willing to pay for the oil addiction of the US. For that reason, smart investors buy gold, because, they think, that the paper money US$ in the end will be worthless.


Yeah gold was a great investment, oh wait it just took a tremendous tumble recently...

Sorry, but you are VERY wrong quadour. The weakening dollar brings MORE foreign investors. We are selling off pieces of the United States (real estate and corporations) to outside entities at an even higher rate when the dollar weakens. Also a weaker dollar makes our goods more desirable to other markets as they suddenly have a price break that did not exist previously.

When you look around at the average American they usually only care about oil & the environment when it has a direct impact on their finances. Even now some of the greatest proponents for "energy independence" don't care about environmental responsibility- They just want to insure the security of the US.

fyi CO2

I'm in accord with all you post, except

"Instead they fight a war for oil in Irak, which costs the administration dozens of Billions of Dollars. "

The war doesn't cost the 'administration' - it costs are the burden of the American middle & lower class and all Americans' future(?) generations


An automotive fuel tax on any source of imported fuel should set the price for a gallon of diesel or gasoline at $4/gallon. All the tax dollars should be used to fund these "oil wars". Therefore if you don't want to support such wars each consumer would have the power to choose to NOT fund it by buying an electric vehicle or to minimally fund it by using a more efficient vehicle.

Rafael Seidl

Patrick -

setting a lower bound for gas prices is a possibility, though in the short term, it would hurt a lot of people who cannot turn their lives around on a dime.

Better to simply announce that you will be raising the gasoline tax by e.g. $0.02 per month for the next decade and, distributing the extra revenue via flat-rate credits against income tax (x2 for those filing jointly). I.e. this would be revenue-neutral for the IRS.

This would send a clear signal that the rules have changed and that they must plan ahead for significant changes in their lives (different car, work closer to home/live closer to work/telecommute etc. Come Apr. 15, those making intelligent choices will end up with a net rebate in their pocket.

Earmarking the proceeds from any tax for a particular purpose is almost always a bad idea anyhow, but especially if it's for waging wars of aggression. It would not nearly be enough, anyhow, so your kids and grandkids would still be paying for them even if you decided to "opt out".


Despite the good intentions of the President, in the indian scheme of things, he is almost powerless. The real power in India lies with the politicians and the well-oiled corporate houses (just like it is here in the US). The politicians have been talking about 5% ethanol mix into gasoline for the past two years without any tangible results so far.

So if you really think that indians are the role models to emulate, I am sad to say that you guys are really dreaming about the vision of petroleum free transportation any time in the foreseeable future.

Tony Chilling

Chill out people. We should have full faith in our free enterpise system. When price of energy goes too high people will switch to alternative sources or simply go without heat. Opps, their goes our life style.
Does anybody really care about the cost of energy since we show willingness to accept ever increasing cost just to get it?


I wouldn't go so far as to say that I'd consider ANY politician a "role model" for serious changes in economic and environmental policy, but rhetoric like this does have a kind of value. It can raise public awareness and create a brand of competitive synergy as various nations gun up their responsive energy agendas in turn.

And there's also the fact that India, like China, MUST give serious credence to these alternative fuel sources. Big corporations may be greasing the wheels of the nations' political structure--like it is everywhere--but the simple fact is that India isn't the major economic player that China is. They haven't aggressively sealed off oil sources or made the same kind of overtures that their superpowered neighbor has, which leaves major questions about where they're planning to continue their economic expansion from. These policies are a must-have at this stage in the game, as oil markets simply aren't going to come close to supporting more than one or two gas junkie nations over the next couple of decades.

So, they've got a lot to lose. Makes me think that it isn't just waxing the voter body, but who can ever tell.


There is a danger in a gas tax that just applies to petroleum based fuels, assuming that tax is only applied at the pump for vehicles driven on the public roadway.

It takes fossil fuels to produce biofuels although the input volume of those fuels is the subject of neverending, probably unresolvable debate. Pimental and Patzek still believe (and could be correct) that ethanol and other biofuels have a net negative energy return. Given the array of special interests on the other side of the debate, there will never be agreement.

In any event, if we just tax gasoline, and don't tax those inputs to biofuels, we will distort both the economic and carbon marketplace. If Pimental, et al are correct, we will be setting up a system which will do even more to encourage a major misallocation of our energy resources.

Let the marketplace, both the financial and carbon markets, determine how our energy resources wiil be allocated. If biofuels indeed have a negative EROIE, we will be exacerbating our energy problems if their costs do not reflect the value of those inputs. To exempt those inputs from a carbon tax while taxing gasoline will even more heavily subsidize those fuels.

If one's only concern is oil, of course, then it follows that one will choose to subsidize biofuel production regardless of the overall energy balance. That is clearly not my only concern, as we have already reached a peak in North America in the production of natural gas. In addition, we need to minimize energy inputs from all fossil sources because of global warming and the destructive nature of coal production, for example.

The ethanol lobby is one that is powerful and heavily corporatized with the likes of Archer Daniels Midland. Farmers will get a few extra crumbs from this endeavor, but the big bucks are and will be going to corporate agribusiness. We would be proceding much more cautiously if it weren't for the fact that our politicians are in these people very deep pockets.

I think India is dreaming. These lands are wastelands for a reason and will become more so as global warming and drowth exacerbates. The desert is rapidly taking over in China. What biofuels will they be growing there?


Many keep assuming Bush isnt for biofuels yet he has always talked about them positively. I think the main issue people have with Bush on alt fuels is he doesnt set a set goal instead insisting on just boosting through incentives and tax breaks and such.

Some people are goal oriented others are path oriented. Bush has always clearly been path oriented.

Harvey D.

Rafael: Your idea is good but it wouldn't be enough to convince users to switch from fossil to alternative non-fossil fuels. An extra $0.02 /gal tax per month = an average of $0.13/gal. for first year or approx. $97.50 per car/year. We are used to much more than that and the effect would certainly be nil. It would take 10 full years to raise the gasoline price by $2.40/gal. Recouperating the equivalent cumulative $97.50/year/car owner from your income tax would make the exercise revenue/expense neutral and the net effect would be nil for most driver.

A better system would be to tax fossil fuel (at same or double that rate) and give equivalent monthly tax rebates to non-fossil alternative fuel, until such time as consumption of liquid fossil fuel is reduced enough to cut Oil imports to zero.

Of course, both rates would have to be adjusted to keep the exercise revenue neutral.


@harvey D: I agree 100% with you. This would be a simple, understanding system, which sets a clear benchmark.

Rafael Seidl

Harvey D. -

if you ratchet fuel (or indeed carbon) taxes up too far too fast, you end up accelerating the depreciation of existing asset by too much. This includes not just vehicles but also real estate in sparsely inhabited areas. Ten years is about the time it takes for the vehicle fleet to churn.

Disbursing the amount raised by way of flat income tax credits is indeed a zero sum game from the IRS' point of view. However, individuals will end up with a net gain or loss, depending on the differential of what they paid at the pump all year and the value of the tax credit. If your car features above-average fuel economy or you drive a below-average number of miles, you will come out ahead.

In the first year, the sums involved will indeed be small. However, the knowledge of further increases to come will give consumers a powerful incentive to make rational decisions about when to buy their next car, which one to buy, when to make their next career move and if they should move house.

Harvey D.

Rafael: There would be no real incentive to switch to cleaner more efficent vehicles as long as you get equivalent income tax rebates.

Applying the carbon tax as rebates on alternative fuels would give everybody a double incentive to make the switch. As mentionned before, your proposed diesel/gasoline tax increase rate ($0.02/gal/month) would eventually convince the majority but not necessarily on the first 2 1/2 years. By that time GWB and friends will be retired and your approach could work.

shaun mann

I think it is a wonderful plan. Jatropha, as a legume, is a soil improver and requires little fertilizer and it is drought tolerant, so the water requirements will hopefully be compatible with what the population can safely and environmentally provide.

And when they are done with the first 30 million hectares, they can start on the other 30 million, since by then their energy needs will probably have increased significantly.

I didn't read most of the above comments because it sound like tired Bush-Bashing, so i hope i didn't repeat anything that anybody else said.


I am in a developing world, Zambia, and for my part we need pronouncements and targets such as these. One strong driving force is the support inherent in poverty which will compel people to get involved to earn some form of income.

As a reference, are we saying what is happening in Brazil is by chance and not from set goals? Today that country has now attained 2 million flexi vehicles.

Please advise.

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