a business based on renewable energy seems to be a family
speciality as Chalasani's father was among the pioneers
of agro-based paper (rice husk, bagasse, etc) manufacturing
mechanical engineer from the US, Chalasani returned to
India in 1997 to join his father's business. He says while
working in the business, he began to look at setting up
a unit with backward linkages complete with a sugar mill
whose bagasse would be used to manufacture paper. He says
that though the integrated unit never became a reality,
his research on ethanol drove him into bio diesel manufacture,
a concept that was then beginning to take shape.
year's research with visits to bio diesel manufacturing
units in Europe, US and UK meeting leading technology
leaders in the bio diesel space led to a tie up with Energea
GMBH, a prominent Austria-based bio diesel manufacturing
company. Energea, the technology provider, would work
on turnkey basis on the project and also operate the plant
for two years.
to Chalasani, in India the technology for setting up a
bio diesel manufacturing unit on an industrial scale is
not available though a number of state governments are
making a lot of claims about manufacturing the product
here. In late 2003 he says he approached financial institutions
for the funding the project. A consortium of financial
institutions led by IDBI are now funding the Rs135 crore-project
for setting up an integrated plant manufacturing phytochemicals,
nutraceuticals, pharma grade glycerine and bio diesel.
present 60 per cent of the revenue comes from the other
products and the rest from bio diesel. In volumes however,
bio diesel comprises 75 per cent of the products manufactured.
The plant will have the capacity to manufacture 300 tonnes
of bio diesel per day (tpd).
majority, 52 per cent of the equity in the company is
shared equally between Energea and Naturol Bioenergy,
a small part is with FE Clean Energy while the rest is
held by financial institutions.
project is scheduled to attain financial closure by October
this year. According to him the only constraint in the
manufacture of bio diesel is availability of raw material.
"If that is assured, the sky is the limit,"
says with the initiatives being taken by a number of governments
in India, the scenario is looking more optimistic than
before. He says when he first approached bankers for funds,
a banker asked him, "Is this the same fuel made by
a Mr Pillai in Chennai some years ago?"
adds, that with DaimlerChrysler India getting a $3 million
grant from DaimlerChrysler AG last year to take the Mercedes
on an all India run, the level of awareness of the product
is better than ever before and adds optimistically, "which
is good for us."