One million jobs could be created in India over the next decade through the transformation of agricultural waste into biofuel. Should this occur, biofuels could meet 59 percent of the demand for liquid transportation fuels by 2020. This according to the Bloomberg New Energy Finance study, “Next-generation Ethanol: What’s in it for India,” commissioned by Novozymes. Already, the Indian government has announced its Indian Biofuels Policy that calls for 20 percent of its transportation fuel to be biofuels by 2017.
The study was released at an event organized under the aegis of the Danish Embassy in India in cooperation with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. Consuming 17.3 billion litres per year of gasoline, India is the world’s 6th largest consumer of energy. Through 2020, demand is expected to grow 8.5 percent every year. Based in a barrel of crude oil at $100 USD, India would spend $19.4 billion USD on imported gasoline by 2020.
“By converting agricultural residues into fuel ethanol, India has the potential to reduce its dependence on imported petroleum,” said Thomas Nagy, Executive Vice President for Novozymes. “What’s more interesting is that this can be achieved without changing today’s agricultural land-use patterns or cultivating new energy crops. In addition, we already have the technology ready for deployment.”
According to the report, biofuels from agricultural residues could become a critical alternative to liquid transportation fuels. However, for this to happen, the report says issues such as policy implementation, the absence of incentives for the collection of the ag residue (only 25 percent of the waste is currently recovered by the fields) and infrastructure need to be addressed in order for biofuels to play a critical role in India’s energy needs.
Expanding on the policy requirements, the report lays out the need for India-wide mandates, coherent and innovative polices at the centre and state levels and cohesive policy incentives. Only these measures, says the report, will encourage stakeholders to make necessary changes and investments.