Entrepreneurs go ga-ga over bio-diesel
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
Bio-diesel, the new buzzword in the industry, is attracting
much attention from entrepreneurs. Going by industry estimates,
at least a dozen companies have ventured into extraction of
But it will be some time before we can queue
up at a plant fuel pump. The CEO of a biodiesel company said,
"The market for bio-diesel is as big as that for diesel.
But we have to check out its acceptability. The automobile industry
has been depending on fossil fuels for ages. Converting it to
natural gas has been a major task. To shift to bio-diesel would
involve a herculean campaign."
Bio-diesel units primarily depend on the seeds
of pongamia and jatropha. Though there are plantations of these
trees in some areas, the output is not much. With the number
of extraction units increasing, we are likely to find more such
"Pongamia and jatropha can be grown anywhere'
except in cotton growing areas, where there is black soil. The
plan is to encourage such plantations in rain-shadow areas and
induce farmers to make use of dry and fallow lands," the
secretary for rain-shadow area development, M G Gopal, said.
The state government is planning to bring two
lakh acres under these plantations. "If the government
provides the basic support to the industry and farmers, the
state can take the lead in bio-diesel production," an industrialist
In addition to jatropha and pongamia seeds,
bio-diesel companies are also examining the possibility of using
other vegetable oils and non-edible oils as feed stock. "The
price of bio-diesel is about Rs 24 per litre. Any automobile
that can use diesel can use bio-diesel without having to make
any changes in its engine. The mileage would be comparable to
that obtained from fossil diesel. However, till now no efforts
have been made to arrange for vending of bio-diesel. To ensure
its regular supply the government should play an active role,
making it mandatory for public-sector oil companies to sell
bio-diesel in their vending stations," said another entrepreneur.
such steps are followed, Andhra Pradesh would become the first
state to supply bio-diesel commercially by April 2005.