The United Nation’s Forum for Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) had therefore necessitated to reduce GHG emission by 5.2 per cent of 1990 level through opting the Renewable Energy Sources under the Kyoto protocol, which had come into effect from February 2005.
The ever growing demand of energy and its consequent impact on import bill for fossil fuel (petroleum products) has necessitated the search for alternative and complementary resources of energy. These alternative resources have been identified as biofuels, which are renewable liquid fuels coming from biological raw material and have been proved to be acceptable substitutes of fossil fuel.
Such bio fuels known as Ethanol and Biodiesel are gaining world wide acceptance as a solution to environmental problems, energy security, reducing imports and improving agricultural economy.
The world oil consumption is expected to rise from 70 million barrel per day (mbpd) in 2000 to 102 mbpd in 2020 with an incremental rate of 1.9% wherein Asia’s share will be 50% of this increase. It is estimated that about 60% of demand will come from transport sector which include Road, Air and Water transport. Among Asian countries, India and China will be the major players in energy sector in general and oil sector in particular as oil provides energy for 95% of transportation.
In Indian context, the domestic supply of crude oil is only 22% and rest is met through import valued presently R.90,000 crores to one lakh crore (Rs 90 billion to 100 billion). The sharp increase in oil prices in international market also exerts tremendous burden on foreign exchequer and the socioeconomic growth of the country adversely.
Taking into account the current scenario, the energy from Biomass becomes more relevant to such countries where adequate land, man power, solar energy and technology is available to convert biomass into energy. Such biomass energy in liquid and gaseous form is known as bio fuels which have been proved to be a good substitute for fossil fuel in transport and power sector. The bio fuels may be treated as alternatives and complimentary fuel as they can be used in pure form or blended in different ratio with fossil fuel (Petrol and Diesel) in automobile and generator engine with or without any modification.
While ethanol is derived from the byproducts of sugar industry and blended from 5 to 25 per cent with Petrol in many countries, the biodiesel is made from fresh and used vegetable oil of edible and non-edible nature from animal fats through transesterification which is used in pure form or blended upto 20 per cent with mineral diesel.
Conformity to norms
According to a Planning Commission report, the use of pure and blended biodiesel require no or very little engine modification as it conforms to the specifications required in automobiles and generators engines. Among the raw material used for Bio diesel productions- Sunflower, Rapeseed, Soyabean, Palm Oil, Jatropha and Pongamia are prominent and being used in USA and European countries.
Tree Borne Oil Seeds
India being deficit in edible vegetable oil cannot afford to divert the edible oil to biodiesel production, therefore, the use of Tree Borne Oil Seeds (TBOS) of non-edible nature is considered to be the best alternative.
Jatropha has been given greater focus by the Government due to higher yield of oil per hectare among many tree species. Jatropha commonly known as Ratanjot also possesses merits like wide adaptability in different climatic zones and soil types, easy multiplication by seeds, cuttings and seedlings, drought tolerant and frost hardy, non-brousable by cattle, multiple uses like fence/ hedge, oil, medicine, natural dye, early fruiting and long life span of 40 years and comparative suitability of oil for Bio diesel production.
It is grown in wild state in almost all states up to 4000 feet altitude from the coastal areas in forest and non-forest areas in scattered manner.
It is generally raised as hedge plantations along field boundaries in non-forest areas by farmers, along plantation boundaries by State Forest Departments and along road sides for soil conservation by Soil Conservation Department and Border Road Organization in hills.
Owing to the multiple characteristics of Jatropha, the Committee of Development of Biofuels, constituted by the Planning Commission, Government of India (GoI) had also contemplated a long term plan for development of Jatropha plantation for blending of 5% to 20% Jatropha oil with diesel in a phased manner.
Planning Commission had also estimated that 10 per cent replacement of petroleum fuel by bio-fuel would also help save Rs 8, 400 crores annually in foreign exchange. The potential of Jatropha can also be gauged from the fact that it can be grown in arid and semi-arid lands without little or no care. It is ideally suited for drought prone and dry areas. Jatropha has a strong anti-erosion quality which helps in protecting the soil cover.
Jatropha has a life span of 40 years and starts producing seeds in two years time. Jastropha is found across the country and finds its use in tanning products, dyes, bio fertilizer, soaps, waxes, pest control products and has great medicinal properties.
The Jatropha dominated states are, however, identified as Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, MP, Chattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Orissa and Uttaranchal. The seed collection and oil extraction activities are going on in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh. Uttranchal has constituted a Biofuel Board and made an action plan to raise mass scale plantation (25000 hectares) in forest and non-forest lands. Gujarat has also launched a biofuel mission.
Other states like Maharashtra, Chhatisgarh, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh have initiated Jatropha plantation in a big way in the coming years. It has also been reported that farmers have also initiated Jatropha plantation on good fertile land under irrigated conditions and expecting high to very high returns assuming Jatropha as a cash crop.