“Technology innovation is a critical component across both feedstock and conversion technologies and India needs to be geared up in this segment,” said Dr Renu Swaroop, Managing Director, BIRAC and Adviser, Department of Biotechnology Ministry of Science and Technology Government of India, as she delivered the key note address at the annual CII Bio-Energy Summit-2014, organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry in partnership with Friedrich Naumann Stiftung in the Capital on October 15th, 2014.
Outlining the key technology developments that are ongoing in the country she said, “Considerable research is taking place in the area of algae biofuels and lignocellulosic ethanol is around the corner. Going forward there is a need to look at synthetic biomass as a feedstock option and tap the huge potential in the algae bio-refinery approach.”
Emphasising on the importance of the Bio-Energy sector for ensuring sustainable energy access, she said, “Bio-Energy is a sector where all countries are more or less at the same stage of development. There is a need for a global concerted effort to address the challenges in this sector. India having one the largest reserves of biomass in the world is a key stakeholder and a roadmap for the development of this sector in the country is critical. There is a need for industry and academia to work together to address the issues in this sector.”
Dr AK Dhussa, Advisor, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, in the course of his remarks said “Bioenergy is now laying claim to an important place in the renewable energy basket due to technologies that have evolved over the years. Currently in India bio energy accounts for only 13 per cent of the installed renewable energy capacity of the country. However this comprises only the commercially exploited bioenergy. There is a need to take into account the non-commercial usage of bioenergy from cook-stoves and boilers etc.”
Emphasizing on the need for financial incentives, policy support and pricing structure to achieve the 5 per cent ethanol blending mandate and go beyond it, Mr Abinash Verma, Director General, Indian Sugar Mills Association said, “While the country is struggling to achieve the 5 per cent blending target, there is enough feedstock available to meet the blending target as B-heavy molasses which have the potential to meet upto 20 per cent of the blending can be diverted to produce ethanol provided the right kind of pricing structure is put in place. Currently, there have been issues as the Indian sugar industry has not been able to supply enough ethanol litres as the pricing structure was not viable.” On bagasse based cogeneration, he said, “Potential for bagasse based cogeneration needs to be exploited fully and there is a need to address the issue of low tariffs for bagasse based cogeneration ranging from Rs 4-5.5 per unit compared to the tariffs for wind and solar based power.”
Providing an insight into the Malaysian experience in the bio-energy sector, Mr Timothy Ong, Head of National Biomass Strategy Delivery Unit (1MBAS), Vice President - Strategic Impact Projects, Agensi Inovasi Malaysia (AIM) said, “Biomass could be a game changer for Malaysia given that Malaysia is the largest by product producer globally. Like India, Malaysia also faces challenges in the area of project development and aggregation of biomass. Currently of the 83 million tonnes of biomass available in Malaysia only 25 million is being mobilized due to costs, transportation and logistics issues.” Reiterating the importance of this sector, he said, “Biomass is a key focus area for the country as there is a specific mandate to create new industries and high value jobs. This is an opportunity that will enable Malaysia to leapfrog to a developed nation status.”
Reiterating the importance of bio-energy, Mr Pramod Chaudhari, Chairman, CII National Committee on Bio-Energy and Executive Chairman, Praj Industries said, “The gamut of bio-Energy is very vast and there is a range of bio-energy led prospects but to develop this sector a stable policy directive is crucial”.