By Renewable Energy Focus Staff
Bharat Renewable Energy Ltd (BREL), a joint venture of Bharat Petroleum, has started a project with SG Biofuels (SGB) to develop and use jatropha hybrids for producing biodiesel in India.
The first phase of the project includes a crop development effort to produce high-performing hybrid varieties of jatropha adapted to India’s unique growing conditions. More than 86,000 acres of jatropha will deployed using SGB's JMax hybrid seeds.
M V Radhakrishnan, CEO of BREL, says"With the genetic diversity of their Jatropha hybrid material combined with ability to produce large volumes of hybrid seed, SG Biofuels is an ideal partner to work with to successfully develop, validate and scale jatropha as the primary source for biodiesel in India.”
Jatropha is a non-edible shrub native to Central America. Its seeds have high oil content, and can be processed to produce a high-quality energy feedstock.
SGB is currently optimising elite hybrid varieties of jatropha through a combination of molecular breeding and biotechnology. SGB will work with BREL to select, test and scale the highest yielding, most commercially viable hybrid varieties for growing regions in India, including the initial 86,000 acre deployment.
In December 2009, the Indian Government developed its National Policy on Biofuels aiming to get a 20% blend of bioethanol and biodiesel into petrol and diesel markets. Government policy stipulates the use of wasteland to cultivate non-edible oil seed plants to avoid affecting food security.
According to the Asian Development Bank, the current cultivation of jatropha and other non-edible oilseeds will need to increase by nearly 80 million acres to meet the nation's biodiesel targets.
Kirk Haney, President and CEO of SGB, says: "We look forward to working with BREL to develop a thriving jatropha industry capable of meeting the country's significant demand for biodiesel. Our partnership is a great example how collaborations across the entire value chain – from crop science and agronomics to downstream refining and logistics – are the key to the successful scaling of jatropha."