Farm area ‘the size of Switzerland’ needed to meet India’s biofuel shortage

A shortage of biofuel crops threatens India’s 2012 green energy target. Andrew Stawarz

A shortage of biofuel crops threatens India’s 2012 green energy target. Andrew Stawarz

While India has taken bold steps to move to cleaner fuels, a biting shortage of jatropha fruits used to produce biodiesel means the country will not meet its 2012 target of blending five percent biodiesel into all regular diesel.

An estimated four million hectares of jatropha plantations (and area the size of Switzerland) would need to be grown to supply the biodiesel needed to meet this target, said Navin Sharma, chief scientist with ITC Ltd, Bangalore at Tree Diversity Day at the 11th UN Convention on Biodiversity Conference of Parties in Hyderabad.

He said given current land pressure, cost and sheer logistics, fresh ideas were needed in order to produce crops and trees for bioenergy. India’s fuel consumption is estimated to be close to 150 million tonnes per annum.

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