Although fossil fuels are the main source of energy for our modern global economy, when burned they produce high levels of carbon dioxide (CO2). A steady increase in CO2 production over the last three decades - culminating in 2016 being forecast as the hottest year on record - has been the critical factor affecting current concerns surrounding global warming and the future of the planet. Together, four countries produce almost 50% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions: China leads with nearly half this figure, with the United States, India and Russia following in its wake. Along with 191 other countries, these world leaders now recognise their collective impact on climate change; Earth Day 2016 saw the ratification of the Paris Agreement, which had been proposed at the 21st UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in December 2015. Coming into force on 4th November 2016, each country was required to submit its 2030 strategy for combating climate change to the 22nd UN Conference in Marrakesh. Of the four largest contributors to emissions, China had the most ambitious target: a reduction of up to 65% of its greenhouse gas emissions per unit of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). India believes it can reduce emissions per unit of GDP by up to 35% by 2030 - but highlighted a requirement of at least $2.5 trillion in foreign direct investment to do so – while the United States intends to achieve up to 28% by 2025.
An area where reductions are already being made is in transportation fuel. In the United States, fuel for cars and lorries accounts for more than 70% of the country’s entire oil consumption. With almost 800 vehicles for every 1,000 inhabitants, only the microstates of San Marino and Monaco have more cars per head. Fossil fuels make up more than 95% of transportation fuels worldwide, but biofuels are slowly gaining ground; bioethanol and biodiesel, the two main products, now account for almost 3% of fuels used for road transport. Bioethanol is an alcohol made by fermentation of carbohydrates produced in sugar- or starch-based crops and, when used as an additive to petroleum fuel, both increases octane levels and improves vehicle emissions. Biodiesel, meanwhile, is produced from oils or fats and is used as a diesel additive to reduce levels of particulates, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons. Although more than 30 countries worldwide have targets for blending fossil fuel-based fuels with biofuels, the United States and Brazil lead the pack, accounting for more than 90% of production combined. The United States implemented the Renewable Fuel Standard, which increases by 100 million gallons per year, and ultimately aims to blend two billion gallons of biofuels into road transportation fuel in 2017. The UK, meanwhile, has a 10% target for renewable fuel sources by 2020, equivalent to replacing 4.3 million tonnes of fossil fuels each year. The International Energy Agency’s goal is for biofuels to meet more than one quarter of global demand by 2050. Members of the UN International Biofuels Forum, formed by Brazil, China, India, Pakistan, South Africa, the United States and the European Commission, are strongly encouraging of attempts to increase domestic production of such fuels.
India’s ambitious plans and requirement for capital fit well with Terravana’s vision: to strengthen producers across emerging economies through healthier sources of energy. Bioethanol will continue to be in high demand in the coming years from oil companies, mitigating risk in the portfolio and adding value for shareholders. There are several crops deemed suitable for the production of bioethanol including sugarcane and cassava – the latter of which has been used for production in South East Asia, but never before in India. Terravana is hoping to capitalise on the gap in the bioethanol market by introducing the first cassava growing programme in India.
As part of our goal to add 500,000 farmers to the value chain by 2020, we aim to create and build a farming, processing, and sales and distribution company of bioethanol from cassava in India. Terravana plans to set up four plants, with an annual capacity of 45 million metric litres of ethanol each, over the next two years. Farming for cassava will begin with a plantation area of 2,500 hectares, expanding to 10,000 hectares in two years. This will enable us to provide local economies with a semi-automated farming system, alongside guaranteed jobs for local people. Our distilleries – where enzymatic production of ethanol from cassava starch will take place – will see Terravana’s footprint expand across four South Indian states: Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, and Tamil Nadu. Our sales and distribution network will encompass both public and private sector oil marketing companies in the local market, including Indian Oil Corporation, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited.
We plan to implement a phased growth strategy from June 2017, when Terravana will launch its pilot project. The first 18 months will see a feasibility study conducted, followed by construction of the first plant in Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh. We will then initiate construction of plants in Warangal, Telangana; Bidar, Karnataka; and Salem, Tamil Nadu. By the end of the period, we will be cultivating our first cassava crop at Kakinada. Our growth phases will kick off in January 2019. Sales and marketing processes will be implemented at the Kakinada plant, while construction will be completed at the remaining three plants. By the end of the year, both the Kakinada and Warangal sites will be at 65% capacity. From January 2020, Terravana’s Bio Energy segment will be all about scaling up and finalising the sales and marketing processes. All our plants will be at a minimum of 65% capacity.