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Gurgaon Inc steps on pollution-free fuels

According to reports, the millennium city is slowly but steady adopting alternate fuels for running vehicles and gensets. A handful of companies have sprouted in the city to help buyers willing to use alternative fuel to power their machinery. This marks a departure from the heavy dependence on conventional use of petrol and diesel, which have been becoming dearer almost every month.

At present, vehicles have been using compressed natural gas (CNG), while some resort to LPG. Apart from this, bio-diesel is foraying into the market. The new-age fuel providers are setting up refitting and refuelling centres across the city. Although at a nascent stage the initiative envisages to spread across the nation with a prominent presence.

With rising prices of diesel and petrol, industry players are optimistic about their growth prospects. “The increase in demand (for alternative fuel) has created opportunities for companies providing green fuel solutions in Gurgaon and other parts of the country,” said Sandeep Mahatekar, director of Logican Alternate Fuels Private Limited (LAFPL).

Mahatekar added that the demand for biofuels has been increasing gradually around 30-35 per cent. He said that the demand depends on various parameters such as the cost of CNG against petrol or diesel and the availability of CNG refilling stations and the required network.

The company claims to be a leader in alternate fuels, as a supplier and service provider for three-wheelers, heavy automobiles and gen-set applications. “Beside CNG conversion of vehicles, we provide technical assistance and also have an annual maintenance contract with fleet owners of various commercial transport companies providing cab facilities in Delhi and Gurgaon,” Mahatekar added. The company claimed that the demand for their service has increased manifold in the past few years.

“Socially responsible corporates using huge fleets of cabs (running as taxies) for employees or guest transfers are exploiting biodiesel – a soon-to-be-revolutionised product,” said Akshat Rathee, managing director of Earth-100.

Earth-100, a Nodwin group subsidiary, wants to introduce algae as a sustainable substitute for diesel. It is developing standard structures, processes and business models for future projects. The company’s ultimate objective is to bring down production cost of biofuel under $1 per litre.

Mahindra and Mahindra, the automobile major, is providing technological assistance. Mahindra provides cars specifically modified for running on biofulels. They also take care of all the services, maintenance and insurance required, according to Earth-100’s website.

Rathee added that Earth-100 is a B2B solution and provides biofuel, dispensing solutions, modified Mahindra Scorpio, drivers, service, maintenance and performance tracking. Though the company has just started its commercial operations it expects its revenues to be around Rs 50,00,000 by financial year 2013-14.

The reason for his confidence is “Demand for biofuel is increasing in light of the rising petrol and diesel prices,” according to Rathee. Aparently he has seen more and more corporates expressing interests in his services and have shown willingness to use biofuels on various platforms such as cars, gen-sets and commercial vehicles in Gurgaon and across the country provided there’s adequate supply of good quality biofuels.

“Supply of quality biofuel is a constraint and that is why most of the demand is for low quality biofuel that can be used in boilers and machinery etc,” added Rathee.

Preferred feed stocks to make biofuels are Jatropha, Pongamia, waste acid oil and waste cooking oil. “The company has partnerships with the Chhattisgarh government and various private vendors across Gujarat and Karnataka through which it procures the biodiesel,” said Rathee.

Using bio-fuels in vehicles is not exactly easy. The vehicles have to go under various modifications to run on alternate fuels smoothly. The modification are expensive, however, industry experts believe this would give long term benefits: in saving the environment and money, for less expensive alternate fuels.

Mahatekar said that modifications including fitting of CNG kits. “The cost of the kit depends on different factors such as type, composition and size of the CNG cylinder. The cost of closed loop ranges from Rs 48,000 to Rs 52,000. The cost of sequential system ranges from Rs 55,000 to Rs 75,000.

Although green or alternative fuels have an opportunity for growth, businessmen like Rathee believe that there is a dire need of government initiatives to make this type of energy successful in the country.

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