India's potential seen through report, and research funding

| May 23, 2011

If even half of the 1 million jobs materialize that a report commissioned by Novozymes predicts are created by converting agricultural biomass into biofuels in India, the South Asian nation, the world’s sixth largest consumer of fuel, would be content. The report, titled “Next-generation Ethanol: What’s in it for India,” indicates that if India takes advantage of roughly 125 million tons of biomass currently unused, the country, by 2020, could meet almost 60 percent of its transportation fuel demand. Completed by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the report also estimates that fuel demand in India will grow by roughly 8.5 percent every year until 2020. And, the report notes, if a barrel of crude oil is $100, India will spend $19.4 billion on imported gasoline.

Thomas Nagy, executive vice president for Novozymes, noted that “by converting agricultural residues into fuel ethanol,” India can not only reduce its dependence on foreign fossil-fuel, but it can do so “without changing today’s agricultural land-use patterns or cultivating new energy crops.”

Not surprisingly, the report points to a country-wide policy implementation pushing for an expanded use of ethanol and cellulosic biomass as the main factor that could allow India to benefit from the unused biomass. Before that time comes, however, India might benefit from some assistance from the U.S., after the U.S. DOE announced that it will provide funding for a joint venture between the U.S. and India at a joint clean energy research and development center. Over a period of five years, the center will use the $25 million committed by President Obama and the government of India to focus on three areas: second-generation biofuels, energy efficiency and solar energy.

By working together, DOE Secretary Steven Chu said that the two countries can get “further, faster” than if the countries were working alone. Private companies, universities and national labs can apply to receive funding through the collaborative project and both the U.S. and the Indian Ministry of Science and Technology will provide $50 million to support the research. For more on the available funding or information on how to apply, click here