FOR THE YEAR 2014 - 2015

Roundtable on Bioenergy Issues and Options with the World Bioenergy Association and IISWBM, 26th November 2014, Chamber premises

The Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCC&I) and Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management (IISWBM), in association with the World Bioenergy Association organized a Roundtable on Bioenergy on 26th November 2014 at the Williamson Magor Hall, BCC&I premises. An international delegation from the World Bioenergy Association participated in the programme. Around 100 local delegates from industry, research institutions and NGOs attended the programme.
Dr. Anindya Narayan Biswas, WBCS (Executive), Jt. Secretary (Power & NCES), Department of Power & NCES, Government of West Bengal was the Chief Guest. Prof (Dr.) Amitava Sarkar, Director, IISWBM; Prof (Dr.) S C Bhattacharya, Vice President, WBA and Adjunct Professor, IISWBM; Prof (Dr.) B K Choudhury, Professor, Department of Energy Management, IISWBM; Dr. Heinz Kopetz, President World Bioenergy Association (WBA); Prof. Sujay Basu, Former Director, School of Energy Studies, Jadavpur University and Key Lead, Energy and Environment Committee, The Bengal Chamber; and Mr. Suman Lahiri, Regional Director, EBTC addressed the programme among other speakers.
Nearly 25% of India’s primary energy comes from biomass. Biomass fuels in the form of fuel wood, dung and crop residues play a key role in meeting energy demands in India, particularly in rural areas. About 70% of India’s population depend on biomass to meet their cooking energy needs. India has a huge potential of bioenergy. Although MNRE’s recent annual reports suggest that the potential of agro-residues and plantations in the country total about 16,888 MW, in the report of 2005-2006 the estimated potential of power based on plantation on 21 Mha of waste lands was indicated to be 52,000 MW. The Committee on India Vision 2020 as well as the Standing Committee on Energy of the Indian Parliament estimated the total power potential of biomass from plantations in wasteland alone to be 100,000 MW. Thus, the total potential of biomass including wood from plantations, crop residues, wastes etc. should be substantially higher than 100,000 MW. A number of policies, including Feed-in Tariff, Renewable Purchase Obligation, and financial incentives (capital subsidy, interest subsidy, etc.), have been developed to promote renewable energy, including bioenergy. Although these served to trigger bioenergy development to some extent, the sector still faces several problems. Only about 4,480 MW of biopower capacity including cogeneration has been realized to date. Due to rising cost of and uncertainty in assured fuel supply, several biopower plants are reported to have been closed down in India. Although highly efficient and clean modern biomass gasifier stoves are locally produced in the country, level of acceptance of these remains very low so far. India has a 5% ethanol blending mandate at present. Although National Biofuel Policy established in 2009 set an ambitious target of 20% blending for both ethanol and biodiesel by 2017, interest in India in biofuels - jatropha plantation in particular - appears to have died down to a large extent because of a number of factors. India’s energy import bill has been growing in recent years; it is estimated that the oil import bill alone amounted to 6.93 lakh crores (or trillion) rupees in 2011-12. For reducing dependence on imported fossil fuels as well as import bill, and enhancing national energy security, there is an urgent need to accelerate the pace of development of bioenergy and other renewable energy resources.
This event brought together different stakeholder groups of bioenergy to highlight problems and barriers faced by the sector as well as policy measures needed to remove these and stimulate bioenergy development. The participants were highly appreciative of the effort. Following the programme, a set of recommendations were prepared and sent to the relevant Government departments and also researchers.