Despite the sharp fall in crude oil prices globally, government-owned oil companies are not scaling back their research and development (R&D) spends on alternative and renewable energy and have in fact , been aggressively increasing their outlays for such programmes.
Indian Oil Corporation, the nation’s biggest marketer and refiner, doubled its R&D spend from Rs 30 crore to Rs 60 crore this year. The company is conducting research in areas like biodegradable lubricants and oil refining technology, and technology for coal gassification and production of ethanol from biomass.
Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) increased it R&D spend by 20 per cent from Rs 25 crore last year to Rs 30 crore this year. The company is focusing on bio-diesel and bio-lubricants, converting biomass into bio-ethanol, nanotechnology, and making more efficient solar PV cells. Also planning to use hydrogen fuel cell technology to generate 1,000 Mw over the next three to five years.
Among private oil companies, Reliance Industries, India’s largest private sector enterprise, has kept Rs 308.34 crore this year for R&D across its businesses. RIL has entered into a formal agreement with the Andhra Pradesh government for planting Jatropha for biodiesel – selected 200 acres at Kakinada to grow jatropha for high-quality bio-diesel. Nano technology is said to be another research area for the company.