India’s new biofuels policy has been the talk of the town.

Biofuels Policy

First the Indian government releases its new biofuels policy setting a target of 20% ethanol and 20% biodiesel blending by 2017. The policy is questionable because as we all know, India is already suffering an inflation in food prices. While the new policy requires fuel crops are to be grown only on “waste lands”, we all know that Indian farmers work in their own economic interest. If they get more money from oilseeds, then that’s what they will look to cultivate.

Companies Milk the Biofuels Policy

Then companies like Bharat Petroleum and the Khaitan Group decide to get in on the act. Although jatropha has been recognized as a ‘toxic’ plant for years, it is suddenly in vogue and every big renewable energy player wants to invest in jatropha plantations. Now you tell me…which way are those farmers going to turn?

Tata To Make Sweet Sorghum Ethanol

The Tata group is taking a different approach by investing in sweet sorghum for ethanol. According to International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), based in Hyderabad, said that sweet sorghum is ideal as a “food and fuel” crop for India, based on the plant providing 8 units of energy for every unit of fossil-fuel energy invested. Unlike jatropha which is grown on contentious wastelands, sorghum is grown in hilly and semi-arid areas where food crops have low yields that are not commercially viable.

Investing in biofuels is fast becoming a new fashion statement for renewable energy players? Who will come walking down the ramp next?

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Does India’s New Biofuels Policy Spell Sustainability?