Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Tuesday urged the public sector undertakings to create startup funds on the lines of private sector in order to promote innovation and nurture new ideas in the energy sector. “I am advising my CEO friends in PSUs that if Ratan Tata can put his private funds for startups and if Narayana Murthy can do that for new startups then why cannot you (do that),” Pradhan said addressing a conference on methanol economy organised by NITI Aayog.
“ONGC has already offered Rs 100 crore for startups. Can we create a synergy in innovation and this kind of startup fund. This can be a win win situation for all of us. Let us create a platform for our young Indians and scientific brains,” he said.
On moving to methanol-based economy, he said, it is a ready made case of proven technology. A methanol-based economy can create a lot of employment and entrepreneurship. On this occasion, NITI Aayog signed a Statement of Intent with the Methanol Institute of the US to further work on the technology.
“The raw material (for producing methanol) should be coming from the Indian market. If we could monetise the agriculture waste and bio waste in urban areas to energy then there will be two benefits – sizeable reduction of health expenditure and our economy can be multi-fold,” he said.
He further said :”How do we reduce our import dependency. My ministry is ready to offer Rs one lakh crore business to scientific community. Now India is importing Rs 4.5 lakh crore worth of hydrocarbons. Technology is there. Blending of 85 per cent of ethanol in transportation fuel is possible.” He also said that petroleum consumption is increasing in the country.
“Last financial year, where the prediction of petroleum consumption was 7-8 per cent, the actual growth was 11 percent. Petroleum need is growing in a bigger way. The rural India is emerging in a big way. Petrol consumption is
increasing in hinterland of the country,” he added. Realising the potential of methanol and DME (dimethyl ether) as a transportation fuel in road, shipping and rail, NITI Aayog has constituted an Expert Group to develop a roadmap for India to adopt ‘Methanol Economy’.
The group will explore various techno commercial angles to enhance production of methanol through natural gas, high ash content coal and through bio, agri and municipal solid waste. It will also draw out a technical roadmap to adopt both methanol and DME as chemical feedstock and for power generation.