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India biofuel interest doubles for Novozymes

Double demand for Danish biotech firm’s biofuels in India spurred on by rising oil prices, say reports

Novozymes said India could be one of the biggest biofuel markets for the company in the next few years

Danish biotech company Novozymes said its demand for biofuels has doubled in India, according to reports. Novozymes, which has its headquarters based in Bagsvaerd, Denmark, said the increase in demand for its biofuels in India has been spurred on by rising oil prices, Bloomberg reports.

G S Krishnan, regional president for Novozymes, said: “India could be one of the biggest markets for us in a few years. The push will primarily come from the oil bill,” Krishnan said, Bloomberg reports.

In an effort to strengthen India’s energy security, the Indian government has introduced a policy which mandates oil companies to sell gasoline with 20 per cent ethanol blend by 2017. According to Krishnan, state-owned oil companies, including Indian Oil, will drive the demand for alternative sources to meet the policy norms. The current ethanol blend is set at 5 per cent.

Krishnan said India, which is the second-largest sugar producer, has the means to meet demand more cheaply by producing biofuels from agricultural waste.

India could annually save USD 19.4bn, replacing gasoline imports with ethanol by 2020 by developing a local industry, according to a 2011 Bloomberg New Energy Finance study. The study assumed a crude oil price of USD 100 a barrel.

Novozymes teamed up with India’s Sea6 Energy in February last year to jointly develop a process for the production of biofuels from seaweedThe companies said they would use enzymes to convert seaweed-based carbohydrates to sugar, which can then be fermented to produce energy from ethanol.

More recently, Australian firm Algae.Tec joined up with Reliance Industrial Investments and Holdings (RIIHL) in January to launch a pilot biofuel plant in India, using algae fuel technology. According to the agreement, the companies will construct a pilot biofuel plant using algae fuel technology with an enclosed modular high-yield algae bioreactor system. This is designed to utilise waste carbon dioxide and sunlight to produce algae for use as a biofuel.