Note: Will it affect the prevailing agrcultural crisis positively? Has it factored in lessons from the food riots in Brazil?
The National Policy on Bio-fuels and its implementation has been approved by the Union Cabinet, according to the release of the Press Information Bureau dated 24 December, 2009. Setting up of a National Biofuel Coordination Committee and a Biofuel Steering Committee has also been approved. The Policy endeavors to facilitate and bring about optimal development and utilization of indigenous biomass feedstocks for production of bio-fuels. The Policy can be visited at the Ministry’s Website www.mnre.gov.in.
Bio-fuels provide a strategic advantage to promote sustainable development and to supplement conventional energy sources in meeting the rapidly increasing requirements for transportation fuels associated with high economic growth, as well as in meeting the energy needs of India’s vast rural population. Bio-fuels can increasingly satisfy these energy needs in an environmentally benign and cost-effective manner while reducing dependence on import of fossil fuels and thereby providing a higher degree of National Energy Security. The Indian approach to bio-fuels is based solely on non-food feedstocks to be raised on degraded or wastelands that are not suited to agriculture, thus avoiding a possible conflict of fuel vs. food security.
The salient features of the National Policy on Bio-fuels are:-
· Bio-diesel production will be taken up from non-edible oil seeds in waste /degraded / marginal lands.
· An indicative target of 20% blending of bio-fuels, both for bio-diesel and bio-ethanol, by 2017 has been proposed.
· Minimum Support Price (MSP) for non-edible oil seeds would be announced with periodic revision to provide fair price to the growers.
· Minimum Purchase Price (MPP) for purchase of bio-ethanol and bio-diesel would be announced with periodic revision.
· Major thrust will be given to research, development and demonstration with focus on plantations, processing and production of bio-fuels, including Second Generation Bio-fuels.
· Financial incentives, including subsidies and grants, may be considered for second generation bio-fuels. If it becomes necessary, a National Bio-fuel Fund could be considered.
· A National Biofuel Coordination Committee, headed by the Prime Minister, will be set up to provide policy guidance and coordination.
· A Biofuel Steering Committee, chaired by Cabinet Secretary, will be set up to oversee implementation of the Policy.
The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy has been designated as the co-ordinating Ministry for biofuel development and utilization while specific roles have been assigned to other concerned Ministries. MNRE has taken several initiatives on various aspects of biofuel development. An exercise has been initiated with scientific agencies – ICAR, CSIR, DBT, DRDO, NOVOD Board on collection, screening and identification of elite germplasms of jatropha and on processing and end use technologies.
The objective is to generate and make available elite planting materials for plantations. The scientific agencies and the private sector have identified 25 superior genotypes/accession s of jatropha for further multiplication for demonstration at various sites in potential States. Another exercise has been taken up on realistic costing of biodiesel which will provide guidance on review and revision of the purchase price for biodiesel.
A survey has been undertaken to assess the status of Jatropha plantations in nine States. Major thrust is being given to development of second generation biofuels. An Indo-US MoU has been signed on biofuels with focus on joint R&D, particularly on second generation biofuels such as, cellulosic ethanol and algal biodiesel. Another initiative with research institutes and industry is on for development of high efficiency engines for use of SVO for stationary applications.
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