Indian government Energy advisor warns on biofuels

An Indian government energy advisor has warned that biofuels could pose problems for his country and would not be the best way to use land or water resources. Surya P Sethi was quoted by Ashok Sharma in the Financial Express, news paper.

The report says

Based on available data wood plantations provide the best use of such lands for commercially grown bio-energy as it would yield some 9 times the energy compared to bio-diesel from equivalent land mass.

The annual yields of bio-energy from wood plantations are estimated at a low of 5 tonne to a high of 20 tonne per hectare, he said.

According to Sethi, ethanol based on sugarcane or alternate crops could match wood but the crops would require intensive cultivation, water, fertilizer and arable lands.

And its the amount of water, fertiliser and land that is what would stop India taking the biofuel route. He seems to lean more towards solar power, but the article did not discuss the level of capital needed to fund the area of panels that would be needed.

For me looking at wood is interesting, it seems to grow well on poor soils and can yeild considerable environmental benefits if it is grown sensibly and harvested properly. The lead time is long though.

As it is India is well ahead of the developed world in terms of the share that renewables have in the energy mix.

According to Sethi about 31% of India’s primary energy needs are met from bio-energy produced on non-commercial basis from agricultural and forest waste, wood chips, animal waste and bio-fuels.

Hattip to my friends at the Biofuelwatch Yahoo Group.

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