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Biofuels: The answer to India’s energy crisis

Bio fuels are being increasingly used as a climate friendly source of energy as opposed to other energy production methods. Bio fuels are derived from plants and emit less carbon dioxide and hence result in less green house effect.
Bio fuels have been an important source of energy in the United States of America, Brazil and several European countries. In Brazil and the United States of America bio ethanol is produced as a substitute for gasoline, while in the European countries biodiesel is produced.
In a developing country like India Bio fuels could come to the rescue of lakhs of villages which still do not have any electricity. Bio fuels could easily be used to solve the local energy problems of such villages. Fifty percent of these villages are still not electrified and depend on kerosene for their daily needs. Burning of kerosene is highly inefficient and known to have adverse effects on the health of the people. It is in this regard the bio fuels could be used to cater to the local needs of families for their household purposes as well as the production of oil. Straight vegetable oils or SVO’s are increasingly being used in parts of Africa and even parts of South East Asia as they can respond to the energy needs in villages. Jatropha plantation can be used to produce oil which can be used at the household level and excess oil can also be sold to other people. One hectare of jatropha plantation is equivalent to producing almost one and a half ton of oil every year which is more than enough for the local consumption. In addition to this there will be self sufficiency for the farmer and he could also financially empower himself by selling the extra produce.
But a recent study conducted by an institute in America shows that though Bio fuels solve the energy crisis of thousands of people and emit less carbon di oxide in the atmosphere but are not as earth friendly as they appear to be. Because of modern farming practices, Bio fuels release “Nitrous oxide” more commonly referred to as the Dentist’s laughing gas which is quiet more insulating than carbon di oxide.
Also doubts were raised on Bio fuels as there was a food crisis all over the world which was ironically considered to be because of people in the sub contintent. But the truth is that corn is used to manufacture bio fuels in America and latest studies have also shown that it has almost 0.9 to 1.5 times the global warming effect as that of gasoline. Bio fuels from rape seed are said to have a greater effect on global warming though bio fuel derived from sugarcane in Brazil is said to cause less global warming.
In the Indian context jatropha plantations could be used to energy and do not have too many effects on the environment. Bio fuels are a great method of energy production and farmers and scientists should try and use better methods so as to reduce global warming.
Though Bio fuels are the best answer to the energy crisis that India is facing, the right methods need to be employed to have the best effects else like in other countries if the wrong fertilizers are used, bio fuels could have unintended harmful consequences. Bio fuels should hence use land and energy efficiently and hence can be the answer to the energy crisis that India faces currently.


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