prospects of biofuel are promising”
president and CEO, Reliance Life Sciences, Mumbai
Life Sciences is developing business opportunities in the domains of
medical, plant and industrial biotechnology. The biofuels initiative is
under the auspices of Reliance Biofuels Private Limited, a 100 percent
subsidiary of Reliance Life Sciences. KV Subramaniam, president and CEO
of Reliance Life Sciences expresses his views on Reliance’s
biofuel initiatives and the state of biofuel sector in India.
What are the future
prospects of biofuel as an alternative to nonrenewable fuel?
Biofuel is poised for a big leap in the future and if the challenges of
economics, scale up and logistics are being adequately addressed. A
crucial factor in the progress of biofuels would be successful
commercialization of second generation biofuels. This could
witness the biofuel replacing a substantial quantity of nonrenewable
How is the global
demand for biofuel? Can you give some statistical information on the
Indian biofuel market?
In 2008, the global biofuel usage was about 1.66 percent of the total
conventional fuel used. Currently, bioethanol is a predominant
contributor to the biofuels market with over 85 percent market share.
The Indian biofuels market is at a nascent stage. About 150 to 200
tonnes of ethanol is used annually for fuel blending in India.
Statistics on use of biodiesel is not available as it is mostly
distributed through unorganized means.
What are the key areas of
focus for Reliance Industries on the biofuel front? What are the major
R&D initiatives taken by your company?
Reliance is developing an India-centric, global biofuels initiative
covering biodiesel, from jatropha and other non-food oil seed crops;
bioethanol, from cellulosic biomass and biobutanol, from cellulosic
The Reliance Biofuels initiative is uniquely integrated. It
is based on the principles of using marginal land and staying away from
fertile land used for food crops; working with marginal farmers to help
improve quality of rural livelihoods and incomes; promoting
multi-culture agronomy and building a business that is robust to low
prices of crude oil.
Reliance has successfully grown jatropha along with horticulture and
medicinal intercrops. It has also developed high-yielding hybrid
varieties of jatropha and a plant tissue culture protocol for jatropha.
Reliance has commissioned a 6,500 tonnes per year pilot plant in
Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh, for biodiesel production and developed
second-generation processes for production of bioethanol and biobutanol
at a lab scale.
How is the business
potential of biofuel industry?
Business prospects of biofuel do look very promising. There
is a vast amount of waste land, which is not being cultivated by
farmers in India. If this potential is tapped, biofuel could contribute
to alleviating our energy security concerns.