Issue: October 2016
Cover Story
Textiles’ – the word brings up images of beautiful drapes – cotton, silk, chiffon, lace. Whether it is the material draped on the figurine of the lady...
  Tapping Sustainable Energy Alternatives
  The second lead article, which is also focus article, is written by Shri N Bhadran Nair. Citing a report of the World Health Organisation, the author has advocated for tapping sustainable energy alternatives
  Financing Renewables in India
  The third article is written by Shri P C Maithani, Adviser, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. He has focussed on renewable energy resources
  Steps to Achieve India’s Solar Potential
  The special article is written by Sumant Sinha, Chairman and Managing Director of ReNew Power. He opines that India must also honour its global commitments on curbing greenhouse gas emissions
  Biofuels as Promising Substitutes for high Carbon Energy Sources.
Mayanglambam Ojit Kumar Singh

Nature Runs on Sunlight.
      Nature uses only the energy it needs.
               Nature fits form to function.
                           Nature recycles everything.
Nature rewards cooperation.
        Nature banks on Diversity.
             Nature demands local expertise.
                Nature curbs exercises from within.
           Nature taps the power of limits.

In a super-sized country that is ours, the demands for energy and the challenges of the supply of the same is becoming bigger and worse. India really and desperately needs to generate more energy.

A diversity rich country that is India needs the diversity of Energy sources:

Our civilization is a practical model on fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are necessary for all the activities today including the food we eat. It is unimaginably tough to think of weaning ourselves from fossil fuels. Is fossil fuel the only source of energy for the growth and development including the industrial revolution? The answer is an absolute NO. However, yes, in our world where cheap fossil fuels killed off early renewable energy technologies. By the way can we imagine today a world without fossil fuels? Its very difficult to hypothesize. Yes we can tap the hydroelectricals and biomasses which are the main alternatives in the near future in terms of cost and availability. Biomass fuels, hydrogen fuels, solar powers and wind mills shall surely adorn the vehicles, factories, homes and all the institutions. These alternatives of an alternative world will also bring forth equally difficult challenges. As for example elaborate and extensive damming of the rivers shall cause unprecedented environmental and social conflicts. Wars will .be fought not only between the countries but also within the nation itself over the issue of the sites of installing the hydropower potential sites just like the wars that happened on the sites of oil sources. Hence our surest way to reduce the differences and to allow the coexistence is to allow the coexistence of different sources of energy alternatives as well as conventional sources and technologies with newer insights and innovations so that their coexistence take care of the sustainable development and inheriting a safe and a secure future. The World Banks agreement to help India to promote Indias initiative for expanded solar generation and more especially in India-led International Solar Alliance (ISA) is a very welcome opportunity towards the greener pathways to fuel Indias development.  Here in this essay an attempt has been made to share the history and the possible utilization of the biofuels as one of the means and ways in the midst of all the sources of energy to take up the challenges made by the ever energy hunger masses of today and the possible energy thirsty future generations.

            The need for the conservation and maintenance of the diverse sources of energy in our country also arises from the fact that the newer sources and mode of production established and developed in some institutions and regions are not well adapted to the other regions. The sources and mode of production of energy which look good in some places may not work well in some other places. Hence designing technologies for the diversity and affordability or accessibility is said to be more difficult than sending satellites. Introduction of expensive solar cookers, solar lamps and hydrogen fuels where there is no infrastructure for repairing is an uphill task.

            Biofuels in India:

            Till the 18th century the major source of energy was the solar power captured by plant-biomass. The energy needed to till the land and do agriculture came from the food consumed by animals or laborers. The energy to make grasses into food came from wood.

            India being one of the fastest growing economies in the world our Development Objectives need to be focused on economic growth, equity and human well being. Energy is without an iota of doubt a critical input for socio-economic development. Renewable energy resources are indigenous, non-polluting and virtually inexhaustible and our country is endowed with abundant renewable energy resources. Hence the use of the renewable resources should be promoted and accelerated in all possible ways. Our energy security would be hastened if alternative fuels are developed and promoted based on indigenously produced renewable feedstock. Biofuels shall surely bring a ray of hope in providing energy security.


Some facts of Biofuels


liquid or gaseous fuels produced from biomass resources and used in place of, or in addition to, diesel, petrol or other fossil fuels for transport, stationary, portable and other applications;

Biomass resources

The biodegradable fraction of products, wastes and residues from agriculture, forestry and related industries as well as the biodegradable fraction of industrial and municipal wastes.


Ethanol produced from biomass such as sugar containing materials, like sugar cane, sugar beet, sweet sorghum, etc.; starch containing materials such as corn, cassava, algae etc.; and, cellulosic materials such as bagasse, wood waste, agricultural and forestry residues etc.


A methyl or ethyl ester of fatty acids produced from vegetable oils, both edible and non-edible, or animal fat of diesel quality


            Biofuels are derived from renewable bio-mass resources and, therefore, 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 Indias vast rural population. Biofuels can increasingly satisfy these energy needs in an environmentally benign and cost effective manner and help reducing dependence on malignant import of fossil fuels and thereby providing a higher degree of National Energy Security. Energy security and environmental concerns have been strongly responsible for the growth of biofuels around the globe. A good number of market mechanisms, incentives, subsidies have already accelerated this growth by putting end to the initial inertia. Developing countries are promoting the growth of the biofuels with an additional view that biofuels are the potential means to stimulate rural development and create opportunities for jobs.

            Many developed countries pursue aggressive policies for encouraging the production and use of biofuels. There are strong apprehensions that as more and more land is brought under biofuel crops, food prices would increase substantially affecting poor consumers, particularly those from low-income net food importing countries. However the use of the biofuels and the way India is promoting biofuels is different from the current international approaches so that promotion of biofuels does not lead to food security. In India biofuels are based on non-food feedstock to be raised on degraded or wastelands that are not suited to agriculture. The use of biofuels in India is not new. Jatropa oil has been in use in rural areas for quite many decades in diesel generators and engines. Very interestingly the jatropa seed oil can be used without refining directly in the diesel engines.

The picture sowing Jatropha curcas (Source:

Seeds from the Jatropha curcas plant are used for the production of bio-fuels, a crucial part of Indias plan to attain energy sustainability. Jatropha has the unique potential provided proper incentives and directions are formulated and implemented by the stakeholders including the farmers, scientists and policy makers. The total requirement of the biodiesel in our country is projected today to be very high. With the positive and increasingly successful performance of the domestic automobile industry which is catching up with the global competitors the market for the biodiesel is emerging. This indicates that the total coverage of the land as of today by the fuel yielding plants which stands at 5000sq km is going to be increased and made more efficient and farmer friendly. According to the National Biofuel Policy the Indian Government aims to meet 20per cent of the countrys diesel demand with fuel derived from plants. This will require setting aside 140,000 square kilometers of land a momentous task and a momentous opportunity. The government presently is implementing ethanol-blending program and considering initiatives in the form of mandates for biodiesel. Such strategies accompanied by the rising population and growing energy demand from the transport sector makes the  biofuel market is a promising field of opportunities.


                        Why Jatropha?  Because


Shrub or tree to 6 m, with spreading branches. Ranging from Tropical Very Dry to Moist through Subtropical Thorn to Wet Forest Life Zones. India has the perfect habitats for the plant.


Grows readily, from cuttings or seeds. Cuttings strike root so easily that the plant can be used as an energy-producing living fence post.



For medicinal purposes, the seeds are harvested as needed. For energy purposes, seeds might be harvested all at once, the active medicinal compounds might be extracted from the seed, before or after the oil, leaving the oil cake for biomass or manure.

Yields and Economics


Seed yields 68 MT/ha with ca 37% oil. Such yields could produce the equivalent of 2,1002,800 liters fuel oil/ha.



The clear oil expressed from the seed has been used for illumination and lubricating. One ton of nuts yielding 70 kg refined petroleum, 40 kg "gasoil leger" (light fuel oil), 40 kg regular fuel oil, 34 kg dry tar/pitch/rosin, 270 kg coke-like char, and 200 kg ammoniacal water, natural gas, creosote, etc.


 Leaves show antileukemic activity, contain a-amyrin, b-sitosterol, stigmasterol, and campesterol, 7-keto-b-sitosterol, stigmast-5-ene-3-b, 7-a-diol, and stigmast-5-ene-3 b, 7 b-diol. 

Some Characteristics of Significance

Can grow in wastelands across India.

 The oil is an excellent source of bio-diesel.

Large plots of waste land can be selected which will also provide much needed employment to the rural poor of India

 A potential GHG emission saving of 33-42% compared to fossil-based diesel



            India is today very keen on reducing the use and its dependence on coal and petroleum to meet the challenges of the energy demand and encouraging the Jatropha cultivation as a crucial component of the energy policy of the country. One of the major concerns and goals of the National Policy on Biofuels is to ensure that a minimum level of biofuels become readily available in the market to meet the demand at any given time. An indicative target of 20per cent blending of biofuels, both for bio-diesel and bio-ethanol, by 2017 is proposed. Blending levels prescribed in regard to bio-diesel are intended to be recommendatory in the near term. The blending level of bio- ethanol has already been made mandatory, effective from October, 2008, and will continue to be mandatory leading up to the indicative target.

            Promoting the use and making the public aware about the use and the growth of the biofuels shall surely make the provisions for the lowering of environmental loads. This will be indeed dynamically very efficient. The effects of the use of biofuels shall also surely include the reduction in the emission of the harmful green house gases and thereby helpful in reducing the global warming.

            Reducing and Substituting the dependence on fossil fuels in transport sectors:

            The planning and the implementation of the low carbon development in the transport sector in the developing countries and the world at large is a paramount task for every government in every country today. In the globalised world transportation and the transport sectors play a pivotal role in the macro as well as micro economical activities. Transport plays a very important role in the survival of the nations and the continents. From developmental activities to disaster management transport plays a big role. And at the same time transport and transportation activities require and shall require a major share of the energy produce. Hence developing countries in order to efficiently conduct their activities must rely on low carbon, cheaper, easily accessible and available sources of energy which can be used, exploited and generated sustainably. The Indian roads and the ports today are becoming great global attractants which attract the investments from outside and inside alike.

            The prospect of biofuels as a transport alternative fuel is promising. The transport sector occupies one of the largest energy consuming sectors in every country of the world. A part of this energy demand, if it is supplied by the ecofriendly biofuels much of the problem(s) of pollution such as acid rainfall, harmful tropospheric ozone formation and release of the global-warming gases shall be reduced.

            Challenges of Biofuels in the Striving to Explore further:


            1. Intensive research and development to standardize and increase the efficiency of the biofuels.

          2. Proper transfer and induction of newer technologies regarding the biofuel production.

            3. Mainstreaming the importance, acceptance and adoption of the biofuels.

           4. Cooperative works must be promoted between the farmers, growers, institutions both educational and financial.

            5. Sustainable production of the high quality biofuel feedstocks through intense and active local communities.

            6. Proper utilization of the end products.

            7. Special creation of the grants for undergoing research in the locally available resources for the production of the biofuels.

            8. Strict maintenance of the achievable high standard and quality.This must be strictly enforced, implemented and audited timely.

            9. Participation from all the states and

            10. Awareness and capacity building must be given good share of priority as until and unless people are not aware of the importance and significance the sustainability of the process, project and propagation will not last long.


            The welfare of humans or the societies of humans require power or energy. And there is no bias in terms of the energy need. We must move or should be intelligent enough to have basic energy as a fundamental right of all of us. To have a clean environment, better sanitation, better health, well secured and a well informed society the primary requirement has always been the easily assessable, affordable and equitably distributed energy. We need a very practical solution and a very practical energy source. Much of the present renewable sources of energy too are in the spheres of consultation and consultants only.

            Shrinking crude oil reserves, rising demand and the corresponding rise in prices of petroleum, as well as the concerns about global climate change and energy security, bioenergy is becoming increasingly relevant as a possible and potential alternative or substitutes to fossil fuels.

            Lets aim for an energy source which has at least one of the objectives everybodys interest is taken care of, entrepreneurial, easy to use and conserve or save, locally available, adaptive technology, reap the dividends by the locals in a local atmosphere along with the probability of selling the extra and unused to a public grid or to an energy market.

The author is Assistant Professor in Zoology, Ramjas College, Delhi University, Delhi-110007




Regional Languages
News & Events
Regular Column
J&K Window :
Do you know? : What is Forensic Auditing
Forensic auditing refers to the auditing with the main aim to employ accounting techniques and methods to gather evidence to investigate the crimes on financial front such as theft, fraud etc.
Copyright 2008 All rights reserved with Yojana Home  |  Disclaimer  |  Contact