Biofuels in India: Future Challenges

Posted on May 30, 2011

Biofuels are globally considered sustainable and ecofriendly source of energy to enhance national energy security and decrease dependence on imported fossil fuels. During the past one decade, Government of India (GoI) has initiated several measures to augment production and use of biofuels. The National Biofuel Mission launched in 2003 is the frontrunner of such efforts in the country. The ‘National Policy on Biofuels’ released in 2009, foresees biofuels as a potential means to stimulate rural development and generate employment opportunities, as well as aspires to reap environmental and economic benefits arising out of their large-scale use. The Policy aims at mainstreaming biofuels by setting an indicative target of their blending up to 20 per cent with petrol and diesel in the transport sector by the year 2017

(GoI, 2009). It is categorically mentioned in the Policy that the program is to be carried out based solely on the non-food feedstocks that are raised on degraded or wastelands not suitable for agriculture, thus avoiding a possible conflict between food security and fuel security. Bioethanol produced from the sugar cane molasses and biodiesel produced from the non-edible oilseed crops like jatropha and pongamia are currently being promoted for commercial use. Though very well conceived in its scope and aims, India’s national biofuel program faces considerable challenges in its implementation. This brief presents the current status, discusses the future prospects and examines the critical constraints and impediments in the path of development of this program. It also offers suggestions and alternative policy options so as to enable the program achieve its objectives.

Shinoj, P. Raju, S.S., Ramesh Chand, Praduman Kumar and Siwa Msangi (2011.) Biofuels in India: Future Challenges. Policy Brief No. 36, National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research, New Delhi.

Read the rest of this policy brief by downloading the PDF: Biofuels in India: Future Challenges.