​​​General Information

 

BIO-FUELS are liquids or gaseous fuels produced from biomass resources and used in place of, or in addition to, diesel, petrol or other fossil fuels for transport, stationary, portable and other applications; 'Biomass’ resources are the biodegradable fractions of products, wastes and residues from agriculture, forestry and related industries as well as the biodegradable fraction of industrial and municipal wastes. However for practical purposes bio-fuel would mean Bio-diesel from non- edible oils and waste fatty matter and Bio-ethanol from sugary/starchy/cellulosic materials.

Scope for Biofuels in Karnataka

Karnataka is one of the important consumers of fossil fuels (petroleum etc). Achieving energy self reliance and fuel security by progressive use of renewable energy through harnessing potential of the state without affecting the food production in the state. State can contribute for reducing the import bill of oil for the country. Earning carbon credits and promoting trading in CER’s. Bio-fuel programmes can increase rural income and women empowerment by generating rural employment. Facilitating coordination of the work of different departments, NGO’s and private agencies dealing in various aspects of bio-fuels to aggregate all the information on bio-fuels in Karnataka at one place for better knowledge sharing, convergence and synergies. Bio-fuel programmes Facilitates optimal land use for bio-fuels, avoiding competing needs of food security. Bio-fuel programmes enhance research and development, production and use of bio-fuels. Synchronizes all other policies and programmes of the state which has direct or indirect effects on utilizing bio-fuel potentials of the state.

History of Bio-fuel development in Karnataka

The use of vegetable oils, wood & plant wastes and animal fats as fuels for lighting and heating purposes dates back to prehistoric times. Usage of Karanj, Neem and other vegetable oils as sources of light in rural areas is well recorded in ancient Indian folklore and history. The first diesel engine invented by Rudolf Diesel in late 19th century was actually run on peanut oil.

The term bio-fuel as is understood in the modern context, has two major offshoots namely, bio-diesel and bio-ethanol. These are in reality ways of harnessing solar energy through the medium of plant kingdom. In fact, there are several people who feel the bio-diesel route of harnessing solar energy is ideal since this involves greening of wastelands which has tremendous environmental benefits as well.

It is interesting to note that the erstwhile Mysore State through Mandya Sugars, was supplying ethanol to Bombay Presidency for use as power petrol for utilization in their BEST buses etc. Work on bio-fuels has been going on in Karnataka in a fairly systematic way for over two decades at least. Some of the recorded efforts in practical applications of bio-fuels are listed below:

  1. Use of Honge (Pongamia) oil in blends with diesel & as an SVO (straight vegetable oil) fuel to run diesel gensets and irrigation pumps in Ungra village of Tumkur District in early 1990`s by the SuTRA group headed by Prof. Udupi Shrinivasa of IISc 
  2. Use of absolute alcohol to run a petrol jeep in KAIC in mid 1990`s 
  3. Use of blends of non-edible vegetable oils, biodiesel and more recently absolute alcohol with petro-diesel in fairly large volumes for running buses in KSRTC in the current decade 

 

In addition, Karnataka has also been a leading state in R&D on the entire value chain of bio-fuels. The first official policy on bio-fuels (bioethanol) in India was actually incorporated in the Millennium Biotech Policy of GoK in 2001. In 2003, SuTRA in collaboration with a Karnataka based reputed NGO Samagra Vikas organized an all-India conference on Policy and Strategic issues in the bio-fuel sector of India in IISc, Bangalore. The conference which was inaugurated by Mr Ram Naik, the then Union Minister for Petroleum, had the active participation of several important organizations involved in each and every stage of the value chains of bio-fuel sector. The recommendations, which were later sent to Government of India, actually laid the foundation for the draft policy on bio-fuels of GoI. While this policy unfortunately took several years to be finalized by the central government, Government of Karnataka came out with a draft policy of its own in 2007.

Government of Karnataka under the leadership of Hon’ble Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa also took the proactive step of forming a Task Force on Bio-fuels in Sept. 2008 under the leadership of Mr. Y B Ramakrishna, a hand on bio-fuel professional who had also contributed to this sector earlier through Samagra Vikas. This was indeed the turning point for the bio-fuel sector in Karnataka. Mr. Ramakrishna has marshaled the considerable resource base in Karnataka into an effective driving force and the task force has indeed accelerated and given a new focus to the several advantages of Karnataka. From then onwards there has been no looking back and now a stage has been reached in which other states are looking up to Karnataka for guidance & leadership. The task force has taken several initiatives some of which are : finalization of the Karnataka Bio-fuel Policy, formation of a new Karnataka Bio-fuel Board, massive planting of important non-edible oil species, a strategic approach to making this a mass movement by establishment of bio-fuel parks & demonstration units all over Karnataka etc. The following account is a graphic and factual description of the initiatives & achievements of the Task Force on Bio-fuel of Government of Karnataka.

Advantages of Bio-fuels

  1. Achieving energy self reliance and fuel security by progressive use of renewable energy through harnessing potential of the state without affecting the food security of the nation. 
  2. Reducing the import bill of oil for the country/ State. 
  3. Reduction of toxic emissions by use of bio-fuels, which are practically free of sulphurous compounds and hence, reduction of green house gas emission through substitution of fossil fuels with bio-fuels. 
  4. Earning carbon credits and promoting trading in CER’s. 
  5. Increasing rural income and women empowerment by generating rural employment. 
  6. Facilitating coordination of the work of different departments, NGO’s and private agencies dealing in various aspects of bio-fuels to aggregate all the information on bio-fuels in Karnataka at one place for better knowledge sharing, convergence and synergies. 
  7. Facilitating optimal land use for bio-fuels, avoiding competing needs of food security. 
  8. Facilitating optimal resource allocation and incentive (including disincentives) frame work for research, development, production and use of bio-fuels. 
  9. Synchronizing all other policies and programmes of the state which has direct or indirect bearing on harnessing bio-fuel potential of the state.