Indian Refiner Seeks First Ethanol from Bamboo as Demand Swells

India’s state-owned Numaligarh Refinery Ltd. says it’s set to pioneer the production of ethanol from bamboo in the country, with a refinery slated to open in December.

The plant, located in the North Eastern states of Assam, is expected to produce 50,000 tons of ethanol a year, aided by what it says is a unique technology, Managing Director Bhaskar Phukan told reporters at an event in New Delhi.

Energy demand is booming in India, largely underpinned by greater use of fossil fuels, even as the challenge from climate change mounts. That’s putting greater focus on alternatives. Amid that challenge, local rules will mandate 20% ethanol blending in gasoline by 2025, up from 12%.

“Bamboo is all around in the north-eastern region,” Pukhan said, adding that the refiner intends to start a mass-planting campaign, with 6 million tissue-cultured bamboo saplings a year for feedstock. In two years, Numaligarh aims to grow 20 million saplings a year, meeting local refinery needs, he said.

By Rakesh Sharma for Bloomberg