General Biofuels,is a company focused on producing biofuels using non-food oil sources, from non-agriculture, non-forested lands. The company indicates that their initial projects are in Colombia (Jatropha/Biodiesel) and Canada (Biomass/Wood Pellets).
“Crops like maize, sugarcane etc were used for producing green energy, but due to worldwide protests against a possible food scarcity, people were now looking for investment opportunities in growing GKG especially in the countries with highly tropical conditions,” said General Biofuel Inc chief agricultural officer Amrik Singh, according to this report.
He said GKG was viewed as the fastest-growing crop, which provided large volume of biomass. “One hectare of land produces 350 tonne of green biomass, which is an important source of renewable energy,” he added.
Growing conditions for GKG required highly-tropical conditions, at least equal day and night period and temperature between 25 to 30 degree Celsius with high level of relative humidity and more frequent rains. Seeing the immense potential of GKG in meeting the cost targets of green energy applications many companies have acquired or are in process of acquiring large land holdings in Columbia which was considered as the best place for its cultivation, Amrik Singh said his company’s pilot project was also on and they would start producing green energy in next two years’ time.
South India had some favourable conditions for the cultivation of GKG, but it receives lesser rains so countries like Columbia were the first choice of the investors where land was also available at cheaper lease.
Clenergen, based out of Florida had been in the news a few months ago for acquiring 5000 acres on a long lease for a 32 MW project and had gotten into contracts for plantation trails recently. Clenergen is also one of the first American companies in India, that has undertaken Bio-fuels and plantations with agronomy management services from local universities and biotech companies in India that seems to have helped it address the feedstock risk in biomass projects.
As most biomass developers would acknowledge and as Panchabuta has often repeated, the biggest problem in biomass projects is the availability of feedstock and usually this varies even within the state and within a particular district this has to be analyzed at a micro market level for the success of the project. Hence it is no surprise that farmers and other land owners with marginal lands are moving towards such biomass cultivation as prices in the open market are as high as Rs.3500/tonne.