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August 13, 2006

Will India harvest the promise of bio-fuels?

Businessworld has an article on the opportunities and the policy bottlenecks facing bio-fuels companies in India, including an interview with Vinod Khosla.

The most encouraging signal so far has been the $9.4 million that BP is investing in the TERI project. This is a vast project covering 8,000 hectares in Andhra Pradesh to show the viability of producing bio-diesel from jatropha. This is a sign that big bucks might still be coming India’s way. D1 Oils of the UK has already invested Rs 6 crore in a small project in Tamil Nadu and is aiming for a 70,000-hectare spread over the next year. Sarju Singh, managing director, D1 Oils (India), says if India does not have a clear-cut pricing policy and some rebates, it will channel the entire production to exports, where prices are firming up.

Shirke, meanwhile, has tied up with Sejati Biotech of Malaysia and a Chinese firm to set up a 60,000-hectare plantation in Papua New Guinea and later on a massive 300,000-hectare project in Indonesia. Says Shah, Sejati’s chairman and CEO, who was in Pune recently to finalise the agreement: “Bio-diesel is the most attractive investment these days. It’s a pity that India does not see the gold in the green.”

Arun Natarajan is the Founder of Venture Intelligence, which tracks private equity and venture capital in India and Indian-founded companies worldwide. View sample issues of Venture Intelligence India newsletters and reports.