ICSB 2018: Experts from 19 nations deliberate on sustainable biofuels at Delhi

Advanced or second-generation biofuels produced from non-food biomass materials and specially grown high yielding plants or algae, if managed sustainably can contribute to significantly reduce emissions

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New Delhi: The two-day International Conference on Sustainable Biofuels (ICSB 2018) was jointly organized by the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India and Biofuture platform on 26-27th February 2018 at New Delhi.

The event brought together experts and delegates from 19 countries together in sustainable biofuels sector to take stock of current knowledge, share information and best practices, and build consensus on the actions most needed to move forward.

Mr V K Saraswat, Member NITI Aayog, said in his address that collective wisdom of all participating countries can foster clean energy revolution. He further highlighted that this event will enable different countries to exchange their experience and share best practices for development and commercialization of advanced biofuels.

Prof Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology & Department of Science and Technology Ministry of Science & Technology, highlighted India’s interest and progress in all the seven Mission Innovation Challenges and the country workshops organized by the DBT and DST in these challenges. He praised the willingness of investors and industries to take forward the leads provided by R&D community.

Dr Renu Swarup, Senior Adviser-DBT, while welcoming all delegates outlined the aim and objectives of the Mission Innovation and specifically the Sustainable Biofuel Innovation challenge. “It is an honour for us in Government of India to host this International Conference on behalf of Mission Innovation and Biofuture Platform. Collectively all member countries have pledged to work together to meet the objective of producing at scale affordable advanced Biofuels. This is the largest multilateral platform to promote research, development and demonstration in clean energy “said Dr Swarup.

The other key speakers of the event included Ms Sarah Webb, Head Mission Innovation Secretariat, United Kingdom, Mr J. Antonio Marcondes, Ambassador, MoFA, Biofuture Platform, Brazil, Mr Adam Brown, Senior Consultant, IEA, France and Prof Jack Saddler, UBC Canada.

Use of fossil fuels for transportation contributes significantly to global greenhouse gases (GHG) emission. The sustainable biofuels have the ability to reduce the GHG emission load and this consideration led to the establishment of Sustainable Biofuel Innovation Challenge (SBIC) under Mission Innovation (MI).

Advanced or second-generation biofuels produced from non-food biomass materials and specially grown high yielding plants or algae, if managed sustainably can contribute to significantly reduce emissions. However, many of the advanced biofuels still remain in pre- or an early commercial stage of development and need innovations and a breakthrough for low-cost sustainable production. The sustainable biofuel innovation challenge aims to accelerate research, development, and deployment of low cost, high GHG impacting advanced biofuels.

The sustainable biofuel innovation challenge will build on existing knowledge of individual participating countries and international institutes like IEA, IRENA and in collaboration of Biofuture Platform coordinated by Brazil as program Secretariat. A major aim of this cooperation is to avoid duplication of efforts and define clear areas of collaboration for speeding up of innovations in this area.

This event aims to provide a common platform to Government policy makers, industry, investors and research community to exchange experiences and challenges related to development and scaling of advance biofuels. Besides this, the conference is focusing on concerns of the private sectors to speed up large-scale production of sustainable biofuels.

About 50 international delegates including country representatives from mission innovation member countries, IEA, Biofuture Platform member countries, IRENA attended the conference. All co-leads of sustainable biofuel challenge – China, Brazil, Canada and India are very well represented in the conference. These country representatives will present the status of biofuel development in their countries. About 20 companies and organizations have put up stalls in exhibition to showcase their activities in the area of sustainable biofuels

The conference will seek to a clear understanding of the development in bio-economy made by participating countries, increase awareness of policymakers about the challenges faced by the industry-investor for commercial scale-up of advanced biofuels. The need for collaboration-cooperation to speed up commercialization and focus on latest R&D in advanced biofuels will be the expected outcomes of this International event.

“Department of Biotechnology (DBT) as a nodal agency coordinating and steering the activities of Mission Innovation in India by Government of India,” said Dr Sangita Kasture, Scientist at DBT, while thanking guests and all participants. Mission Innovation India unit has been set-up last year by DBT at ICGEB, New Delhi. DBT has in past taken lead in ushering R&D in advanced biofuels and has set up four large Bioenergy Research Centres.