Renewable transport fuels (RTF) in India are of strategic importance as it augers well with the ongoing initiatives of the government including Make in India, Swachh Bharat, and Skill Development. These offer great opportunity to integrate with the ambitious targets of doubling of farmers’ income, import reduction, employment generation, and green house gas (GHG) reduction. Pune based Praj Industries Ltd is a process and project engineering company, with presence in North America, Latin America, Caribbean; South East Asia, Africa and Gulf countries, is offering solutions in Bio energy and Engineering space. It is also offering first and second generation ethanol plants, beer production plants, zero liquid discharge systems, critical process equipment systems, high purity water systems and custom research services and solutions. Ahead of the G-20 summit in Argentina, Shishir Joshipura, CEO& MD of Praj Industries Ltd., talks to Huma Siddiqui. Following are excerpts:
How do these initiatives help the Indian farmers and Economy?
Praj has developed an efficient technology of converting agri waste into fuel grade ethanol and bio gas. Praj technology provides a very attractive solution to the age old agri residue burning problem. The entire value chain from Agri residue collection to Bio energy conversion creates employment opportunity in rural economy creating a ‘sustainable’ revenue model for the farmers, rural youth and the ethanol manufacturers. This technology will act as a socio-economic and environmental enabler. By adopting 2G technologies, agricultural residues/waste which otherwise are burnt by the farmers can be converted to ethanol and/or bio gas and lead to positive economic gains for all in the value chain. This is truly a waste to wealth opportunity.
India is an oil importing country and energy represents our largest import – We spent Rs 5.65 lakh crore on crude imports last year- and foreign exchange demand. The challenge for the government is to reduce the dependency on import, save foreign exchange, reduce local pollution, reduce the GHG emission in the economy and improve the well being of farmers. Ethanol blending program offers a clear solution to address all these challenges.
Does this help in Green House Gas (GHG) Emission?
In the COP21 Climate Change Summit held at Paris, India has committed to a target of reducing CO₂ emission by 33% by 2030 over 2005 levels. For India to achieve these ambitious targets, RTFs will have to contribute significantly to overall energy mix of the country. We are committed to supplying technology and critical equipment to the bio fuels industry to reduce the GHG emission target of India.
How is the company contributing in Make in India as well as other initiatives?
Praj has supplied ethanol plants to more than 75 countries across 5 continents. All critical equipments are manufactured in our India manufacturing facility and exported to various parts of the world. We are in the process to set up three 2G Ethanol plants working on agri residue. Praj is also helping set up plants to generate compressed Bio Gas (CBG) from Biomethanation plants treating fuel ethanol plant waste water, Press mud, farm waste and Bio mass. CBG is a sustainable substitute for CNG used as automotive fuel under the SATAT initiative launched by the government.
How did you enter Latin America?
Praj is present in South America since 2000. Initial operations were anchored out of Bogota, Colombia to serve customers in the region. Colombia is the second South American country after Brazil to adopt fuel ethanol policy. Colombia replaced 400 mln litre/year of gasoline with Fuel ethanol reducing its CO2 footprint by approx. 0.75 Mln/MT. The Colombian Ethanol blending program (EBP) has been one of the most successful in South, Central America (outside Brazil). The entire program is being implemented with ethanol manufactured based on Praj’s ethanol technology. The company has set up all of Colombia’s seven ethanol plants with 100% market share. We had to learn Spanish and Portuguese enabling us to have a closer dialogue with our customers.
Which are the other countries in the region where you are present?
We have since expanded our presence in several other countries in the region- Argentina, Bolivia, Guatemala, Brazil, Peru, Mexico, El Salvador, Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, etc to name a few. The company has more than 50% market share in LaTAM (excluding Brazil) with a total installed capacity of ethanol based on Praj technology in excess of 1.20 Billion litres Per Annum.
You recently set up office in Paraguay. Why?
The company was recently invited by the Paraguay government for a dialogue on driving the renewable fuels program in the country. Paraguay has very clear regulations and laws regarding the mixture and use of bio-fuels. We will help in improving technology so that Paraguay can diversify feed stock base for Ethanol production.
What kind of technologies are you offering in the region?
Praj offers a complete suite of solutions for the ethanol industry in Americas viz. technical audits, modernization of existing plants, value maximization services to existing plants, engineering services, license & technologies for fermentation, distillation, dehydration, evaporation, bio-methanation plant. Based on the feedstock and environmental norms of a country, the company also offers customized zero liquid discharge systems for sustainable ethanol production and end-to-end solutions – concept to commissioning; feedstock handling to effluent treatment for grain & sugary based feedstock plants in Americas region.