“Cost economics in biofuel sector must be addressed”

Screenshot of Webinar on biofuels organized by IFAT India

As India struggles to establish a comprehensive biofuel policy, IFAT India hosted some of the most prominent names in the sector to share their experiences and expert opinions in a webinar titled “Biofuels: An essential decarbonisation waste to energy option requiring a proper technical”.

During the in-depth discussion, spanning nearly two hours, candid observations were made about the current status of the biofuel industry and how India can better harness its potential through better policies, technology, and financial planning.

The session concluded with an exclusive Q&A with SolidWasteIndia’s Editor, Aafrin Kidwai. 

Here are some of the highlights:

Atma Ram Shukla, Ex-Advisor, MNRE and President, Indian Biogas Association

As a former top-ranking MNRE official, Mr Shukla was candid in his admission that India needs better policies in the biofuel sector. He emphasized the need to prioritise and earmark biomass wastes for various bio-energy technologies given the limited supply of biomass in India. The Indian Biogas Association (IBA) has also written to all the concerned ministries individually that the cost economics has to be addressed. For instance, Mr Shukla proposed a shift from subsidy-based support to generation-based incentives for biofuel generation. “Our policies have to such that the four ‘Fs (Food, Fodder, Fertilizer, and Fuel) have to be addressed in order to meet with competing needs. Decentralized Biomass Waste Resource Banks will be useful in collecting, sizing and storing biomass waste to feed biogas plants and can be established by the government. Human survival is at stake if we do not take care of our waste. Biogas is the only technology that can help manage waste in an economical manner,” he concluded.

Mr. Gabriel Kropsch, Vice President, Brazilian Biogas Association (ABiogas)

Mr Kropsch reiterated that biogas can be a game changer in terms of any society’s well-being. “The problem is that in most places it is treated merely as a technology,” Mr Kropsch noted. From a technological perspective, India is in a good position since the people have a good understanding of how the industry functions, trade-offs involved, etc. In Brazil, the legal framework has been important. “As an association, we have strongly advocated for market mechanisms, including carbon credits, for biofuel production and distribution in order to make the industry resilient and durable. After all, sustainability is linked to profitability!” Mr Kropsch concluded.

Mr. Gaurav Kumar Kedia, Chairman, Indian Biogas Association

Mr Kedia revealed that the Indian Biogas Association (IBA) has partnered with the Brazilian Biogas Association. Brazil is one of the world’s biggest biofuel producers and the MoU will promote collaborations in terms of training and capacity building, policy support and knowledge exchange.

Mr. Siddharth K. Desai, Managing Director, Kishor Pumps Pvt. Ltd.

From a decarbonisation and energy independence perspective bioenergy needs to play a vital role in the energy mix of India. The government has taken encouraging steps in this direction in terms of the biofuel policy. “There is a lot of focus on liquid fuels and solid biomass for biogas generation and not so much on the liquid feedstocks which I encourage the government to look at since there is a tremendous opportunity to achieve decarbonisation and reduce greenhouse emissions and provide a viable opportunity in the energy mix of the country,” said Mr Desai.

Mr Rege shared information on Mailhem’s biogas projects

Mr. Sameer Rege, Director, Mailhem Group  

Mailhem Group has been implementing biogas projects since the last 25 years. Mr Rege was optimistic in terms of the growing demand for bioenergy from waste, especially from the government’s end. “I am aware of the government taking steps towards resolving legacy waste, for instance. Frankly, our Waste Rules are fantastic – but implementation is a challenge. We have all the infrastructure and systems in place to address the myriad problems of our overflowing landfills, including legacy waste treatment. The missing link, however, remains implementation. Mr Rege elaborated on Mailhem’s projects, including leachate treatment plants that produce biogas.

Mr. Nitish Shete, VP- Renewable Gas, Praj Industries.

Mr Shete shared information on Praj Industries’ compressed biogas production projects and outlined policy measures required by the central and state government including continued subsidies from the MNRE and 100% off take guarantee for the CBG produced and priority promotion of CBG usage in different sectors to replace fossil fuels. “It will be a dream come true if these policy interventions are addressed,” he concluded.

All the panelists agreed on the urgency of promoting clean energy in India and emphasised the need for better policy-making and implementation.



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