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Day 8 – Q 1.Examine the potential and associated challenges of biofuels as a sustainable energy resource.

1. Examine the potential and associated challenges of biofuels as a sustainable energy resource.

एक स्थायी ऊर्जा संसाधन के रूप में जैव ईंधन की संभावनाओं और संबंधित चुनौतियों की जांच करें।

Bio fuels are liquid or gaseous fuels primarily produced from biomass, and can be used to replace or can be used in addition to diesel, petrol or other fossil fuels for transport, stationary, portable and other applications. Crops used to make bio fuels are generally high in sugar (such as sugarcane, sugar beet, and sweet sorghum), starch (such as maize and tapioca) or oils (such as soybean, rapeseed, and coconut, sunflower).

Potential of Bio fuels:

  • Poverty reduction : Availability of energy is fundamental to intensifying agriculture, industrial development and pro-poor growth. Locally produced liquid bio fuels, e.g. biodiesel, could lead to national and local benefits such as reduced pressure on forests, reduced dependency on oil imports and limited exposure to volatile international prices. However, large scale production for export is not as likely to have these effects.
  • Employment Opportunities: Bio fuel could offer beneficial employment opportunities, provided Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies are implemented. Small scale production has shown promising results. Brazil’s first biodiesel cooperative, Cooper bio, involves about 25,000 families using castor bean, jatropha, sunflower and other species produced in small scale diversified systems.
  • Opportunities for small-holders: Substituting fuel wood and dung for bio fuels could both increase local energy efficiency, decrease health risks and pressure on forests. In Mali, a community program has developed small scale jatropha plantations that provide not only liquid fuels but also electricity, heat and mechanical power for a variety of local uses. Smallholders could also increase their incomes as bio fuel crops become cash crops, but markets should be accessible, and mechanisms in place to ensure that price increases accrue farmers.
  • Infrastructural Investment in Rural Areas: It is estimated that, one 100klpd bio refinery will require around Rs.800 crore capital investment. At present Oil Marketing Companies are in the process of setting up twelve 2G bio refineries with an investment of around Rs.10,000 crore. Further addition of 2G bio refineries across the Country will spur infrastructural investment in the rural areas.


  1. Food prices Estimates of the role of bio fuels in the hike of food prices during 2008 have been much debated. It is estimated that 30% (International Food Policy Research Institute) to 65% (World Bank) of the increase in food prices can be attributed to the increased production of bio fuels instead of food.
  2. Tenure and Conflicts Large scale bio fuel production often competes with other land and water uses. Power imbalances make it difficult for local communities to negotiate sufficient compensation for e.g. lost land, especially if they hold no formally recognized tenure rights. Indigenous communities and women are particularly vulnerable.
  3. Environmental challenges
  1. Soil and Water: Many bio fuel crops are highly water intensive. Crops like sweet sorghum, tropical sugar beet and jatropha can grow on drier soils, but may require irrigation and fertilisers to become commercially attractive.
  2. Deforestation, climate change and ecosystem services large scale monoculture bio fuel production often leads to deforestation. Rapidly expanding oil palm plantations in South East Asia, considered one of the largest threats to tropical forests and peat lands, serve as alarming examples. These ecosystems store millions of tons of carbon which is released when they are exploited. Deforestation is in turn a major threat to biodiversity, local communities and indigenous groups dependant on biodiversity.

Indian government has realised the potential advantages of bio fuel and have taken steps to promote befouls through its recent document National Bio fuel policy .This will  help in realising dreams of doubling farmers income along with reducing dependency on fuel imports .

Best Answer: Kamlesh Pratap

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