How India could join the biofuel explosion

There’s an interesting article about how India’s policies are stopping India create biofuel on the Hindu  business line. They’re subsidising the wrong thing, apparently. I think. 

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3 Responses to How India could join the biofuel explosion

  1. Draka 2 September, 2008 at 5:57 am #

    I too was a little confused by the article.

    “The experience in Chhattisgarh and Thailand has clearly shown that the debate is entirely pointless and that promotion of the use of even edible oils for the production of bio-diesel has not affected the food situation there.”

    The article mentions an experience about growing jatropha (a non-food crop) in Chhattisgarh, but the above paragraph confuses this as a food crop.

    The sugar barons (Sharad Pawar, the Minister of Agriculture, being one among them) do wield considerable political power. One practical problem with producing ethanol on the small scale in India is the potential for contamination & abuse(deaths from toxic substances (methanol..) in moonshine liquor do occur).

    That said, I think producing ethanol from sugarcane (to make fuels) is not a good idea. In the future, I might make a few calculations about this to post back here.

  2. Simon Robinson 2 September, 2008 at 9:24 am #

    Hey Draka,

    I guess the truth is in that article… somewhere. I would be very interested to see your calculations. I’ve not been able to find any that really show why sugar cane is such an excellent material for ethanol production. I suspect it is economic to use sugar cane in Brazil because a lot of the transport and processing infrastructure already exists. So the price of this does not have to be factored into the economics of production.

  3. Draka 4 September, 2008 at 1:56 am #

    Simon,
    I dug up a paper on sugarcane production in India and its subsequent conversion to ethanol. It has a table comparing Indian, Brazilian and U.S. sugarcane/corn-derived ethanol.
    There is not a lot of difference in costs between Indian and Brazilian sugarcane-derived ethanol. However, India does need to ramp up its sugarcane production to meet any realisitic blending regulations set by the central (federal) government (sugarcane takes up a lot of water – a scarce resource).
    http://www.ias.ac.in/currsci/apr252007/1071.pdf
    It should be accessible without a subscription, let me know otherwise and I can post the table from the article here.

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