India, Finland ink pact to produce ethanol

In a first-of-its-kind initiative to promote use of clean technologies, India on Tuesday signed an agreement with Finland to produce indigenous ethanol and reduce country's dependence on its import.

As per the deal, state-run explorer ONGC and Finnish clean technology firm Chempolis will set up a pilot project to produce ethanol, bio-chemicals and bio-coal from biomass residual matters.

The agreement was inked between Finnish Minister for European Affairs Alexander Stubb and India's Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Panabaka Lakshmi here.

"We have signed an MoU with a Finnish company called Chempolis. It is for conversion of cellulose into ethanol. We have developed a technology by which all cellulose-based waste products can be converted into ethanol," ONGC Chairman Sudhir Vasudeva told reporters at an event here.

The ONGC chairman further added that since 75 per cent of India's ethanol requirements are met through imports, there is a large requirement which is not being met by indigenous production.

Highlighting Finland's potential as a prominent investment destination, Stubb said "reliability and expertise" are available in his country's stable society. The reputation for reliability and top quality offer a good springboard, he added.

Finland has been repeatedly ranked at the top of international sustainable development indices, he said.

The ONGC chairman, without giving a time-frame for setting up the project, said a feasibility study will be carried out to assess the quantity of feedstock that is required.
Stressing on promoting a cleaner environment, Vasudeva said that the project will utilise wheat straw which is currently being burnt and not being put to productive use.
Chempolis president (Asia-Pacific-America) Pasi Rousu said the project will cost around Rs 300 crore and is expected to be commissioned in 18-24 months' time. Besides, India is also looking at collaboration with clean technology firm Ripasso to convert solar energy into thermal energy.

"There is a company called Ripasso which is converting solar energy into thermal energy. A team from Ripasso will be coming to India, and we will see if we can use this technology," Vasudeva said.

Stubb is leading a business delegation comprising representatives from different sectors such as energy, environmental technology, mining, metals, construction, information technology, health and well-being services, and finance.

The visit aims at strengthening the image of Finland as an attractive investment destination, as well as to promote business opportunities of Finnish companies in India.

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