India to be leader in Bioeconomy by leveraging Global Biofuels Alliance – Jim Lane

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Pune, 9th December 2023: ‘Unleashing the Power of Bioeconomy’, a national conference jointly organized by National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) and Praj Industries was held in the city recently. Globally renowned thought leader Jim Lane, Founder of US based Biofuel Digest was the chief Guest of the conference.

Eminent speakers like Dr. Ashish Lele, Director of NCL, Dr. Pramod Chaudhari, Founder Chairman of Praj Industries along with Royal Society Fellow and Senior Scientist Dr. Raghunath Mashelkar brought to the fore social, environmental and energy aspects of Bioeconomy. Dr. Suresh Gosavi, Vice-Chancellor of Savitribai Phule Pune University; Mohan Vani of National Center for Cell Science (NCCS), Ajit Kembhavi, of Pune Knowledge Cluster, Prof. Sunil Bhagwat, of IISER, Pune and Dr. Ravindra Utgikar of Praj Industries were among the dignitaries who graced the conference by their presence.

During his keynote on ‘Bioeconomy Global Perspective’ Jim Lane said, “With the recent launch of Global Biofuel Alliance (GBA) during its presidency, India has a unique opportunity to become a global leader in BioEconomy. Blessed with ample Sun, land and agriculture India has emerged as a powerhouse of Bioenergy to facilitate energy transition. The availability of advanced technologies and progressive policies aid this opportunity further”

On the backdrop of ongoing COP28 Summit in UAE he opined that the climate crisis is worsening by the day and mainstreaming bio-economy has become an imperative. “We must aim at becoming carbon neutral by harnessing biofuels and biochemicals that help curb GHG emissions.The ‘one and done’ approach to hydrocarbons has to be replaced by the circular economy of ‘many turns of one molecule”, Lane added.

Stating that the current government was making progressive efforts by focusing on the National Biofuel Policy, Dr. Mashelkar said, “It is time both policy and technology go hand in hand when it comes to Bioeconomy. Harnessing clean and green technologies will help India achieve Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). We must leverage exponential technology advancements to maximise yields and productivity while conserving the environment.”

Dr. Pramod Chaudhari pointed out that a holistic and all inclusive approach would be required to accelerate growth of bio-economy. He stated that India should consider judicious use of GM crops (Genetically Modified Crops), an issue that remains unaddressed so far., “ Biofuels is an idea who’s time has come and Global Biofuel Alliance is a watershed moment especially for global south who stand to immense benefit by leveraging captive biological resources” Dr Chaudhari added. Concluding his speech he expressed strong conviction that Pune has all necessary resources, infrastructure and industry ecosystem to emerge as the innovation hub for biotechnology.

Dr. Ashish Lele said, “ Declining air quality index way below acceptable limits is a matter of grave concern and a definitive health hazard. We must move away from the traditional practice of stubble burning. Instead of burning millions tons of biomass every year, the need of the hour is to utilise it for production of biofuels and renewable chemicals and materials on a waste to wealth principle.

He also said,” Pune has one of the best facilities for research and development in Bioeconomy. We are happy that the city has many educational and business institutions that complement the thriving ecosystem for start-ups.”

A panel discussion on ‘Importance of bio manufacturing in building a bio-economy’ was organized in the second half of the conference. Dr. Asha Kembhavi, Bio Technologist, and Dr. Prashant Dhakefalkar, Director of Agharkar Research Institute participated in this while the panel discussion was ably moderated by Dr. Anand Ghosalkar.