Biodiesel experts think the Jatropha Curcas plant, a drought-resistant crop able to grow in marginal land, could yield much higher amounts of energy than many food crops already used for biofuels production.
A 1982 study exploring the potential of vegetable energy sources rated Jatropha Curcas as one of the most efficient potential energy crops, second only to palm oil.
The project will be managed by India’s The Energy and Resources Institute, running over 10 years, cultivating 8,000 hectares of land with Jatropha and installing the necessary equipment for seed crushing, oil extraction, and processing.
TERI aims to produce 9 million litres of biodiesel per annum from the energy crop.
The project will include environmental and social impact assessments and a strict greenhouse gas emissions audit, in light of the increasing concern over the possible contribution of concentrated agriculture to climate change.
“Recent developments have made green fuels economically attractive in view of the resource potential of this option and the environmental benefits associated with it, along with employment generation and empowerment of the rural population,” said TERI director general Doctor Pachauri.
BP said it was pleased to be involved in a project with the potential to positively impact social, economic and energy conditions in the region.