Contextualizing Alternative Energy Usage *Modhurika

Author Name(s): *Modhurika De
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“The world has enough for everyone’s need but not for everyone’s greed”. – M.K Gandhi With the concern of global warming increasing with every passing day, ‘alternative fuels’ is an area, which is the most explored in recent times. Governments throughout the world are seeking alternative technologies to reduce their reliance on fossil fuel and minimize their carbon footprint. This paper will primarily focus on bio-fuels as an alternative energy source. It will endeavor to portray the ways in which bio-fuels started their ascent as an important energy source, and the scenario in the world market today. Most articles on bio-fuels tend to list out the basic pros and cons of using these forms of energy as opposed to others. In this paper, the objective has been to analyze the current status quo of bio-fuel usage and how it can evolve as a source of energy. The key idea of this paper is to propose a realistic point of view about the topic. A number of alternative/renewable energy sources already exist, yet the search for more efficient sources continues. This paper will endeavor to explore all possible aspects of this issue and propose a solution for the same. The discussion of the topic will be divided into a number of subtopics such as: The present scenario of bio-fuel usage in the world. • The origin of bio-fuels as alternative energy sources. • The ways in which the world can obtain more out of bio-fuels. • The future of renewable energy. This paper proposes to explore bio-fuels as an alternative energy source at the disposal of the global citizen, especially Indians, while keeping in mind the economic ground realities. It will endeavor to look into other alternative energy sources and models in application so that our present is not borrowed from our children’s’ futures. “The use of vegetable oils for engine fuels may seem insignificant today. But such oils may, in the course of time, become as important as petroleum and coal tar products of present time”.- Rudolph Diesel,1912.


second generation biofuel, energy intensive; marketing margin; Brazilian success story;


A biofuel is a fuel that contains energy from geologically recent carbon fixation such as plants. These fuels are produced from living organisms: microalgae etc. They are made by biomass conversion, using heat, chemicals or bio chemicals. They may be solid, liquid or gas. (Wikipedia: 21/11/2014). A biofuel is that which is easy to grow (less input cost), high in yield and adaptable to severe climates. ( 21/11/2014). Examples of biofuel are Biomass, methane, ethanol, switch grass. ( 21.11.2014). The focus of attention as an important means of saving ourselves from a powerless future, bio fuels have thus been the subject of much discourse in the past decade.
The first significant large-scale push for the production and use of bio fuels occurred in Brazil & USA as a response to the 1973 oil export embargo imposed by the Arab members of OPEC (Organization for Petroleum Export Countries) against Japan, The European countries and USA. Then, the focus on bio fuels was supply driven. Today, in a bid to reduce GHG (Green House Gasses) it is demand driven. By 2030 global consumption of marketed energy is projected to rise by 71%. Three quarters of this increase is predicted to come from developing countries like China & India. (‘The Promises and Challenges of Bio fuels For the Poor in Developing Countries’ – Joachim von Braun and R K Pachauri).
India is the world’s 4th largest energy consumer in the world today. Though there are proposals to make ourselves energy self reliant by 2030, it is only through increased consumption of hydrocarbon fuels and shale gas. Since thermal energy comes at huge environmental cost, India, along with the rest of the world has been looking at alternative fuels to power economy.


While it is undeniable that alternative energy sources in general and bio fuels in particular are definitely the way forward to meet our country’s burgeoning energy needs; it is time to think of plugging the gaps and alleviating the concerns that drag this discourse down.
Some thoughts that come to mind, perhaps naively, are:
1. A focus on ligno-cellulosic biomass sources in complement to Jatropha and Pongamia
2. A probe into the viability of marine algae as a possible biomass source,
3. A possibility of creating genetically engineered seeds of Jatropha and Pongamia in order to make them faster growing, yield maximizing and pest resistant,
4. A possibility of framing policies like CSR, which incentivises or makes mandatory for every registered enterprise to partake of a role in alternative fuel generation,
5. Incentivizing farmers into growing equal portions of food crops along with feed stock by ensuring a healthy minimum support price,
6. Assessing the worth of political representatives and decision makers by taking into account the productivity of land (farmland as well as wasteland) within his or her jurisdiction,
7. And most importantly, funding and fast tracking, through infrastructural support and increased number of scholars, research into this field.

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