Aemetis Inc. announced Jan. 10 that its Universal Biofuels subsidiary has completed a two-year upgrade of the Kakinada, India, biodiesel and glycerin plant. The upgrades to the Kakinada plant included installation of a pretreatment unit to process lower-cost and waste feedstock into oil; expansion of boiler and other utility capacities; and implementation of environmental systems to enable full production of 50 MMgy of biodiesel while simultaneously operating the biodiesel, pretreatment and glycerin refining units.
The 2018 India National Policy on Biofuels issued by the government increased the target for domestic biodiesel consumption to 5 percent of the approximately 25 billion gallons of petroleum diesel consumed in India each year from currently less than a 1 percent biodiesel blend. In mid-2018, the goods and services tax on biodiesel was reduced from 18 to 12 percent to support expansion of biodiesel. In late 2018, the India Supreme Court determined that biodiesel may be sold at retail fueling stations, significantly expanding the market for biodiesel in India. The government has recently issued a purchase requisition for approximately 260 million gallons of biodiesel for year 2019 to be supplied by domestic biodiesel producers.
“The Aemetis team in India is executing on a rapid increase in production and revenues this year to meet growing domestic market demand for biofuels in a fast-growing economy,” said Eric McAfee, chairman and CEO of Aemetis. “As the only U.S. company producing biofuels in India, Aemetis built and has now fully upgraded our India biodiesel and refined glycerin plant to use low-cost feedstocks to become a leader in the rapidly expanding India biofuels market.”
Sanjeev Gupta, managing director of Universal Biofuels, said, “The innovative feedstock pretreatment unit developed and installed at the Kakinada plant provides a sustainable cost advantage and produces lower-carbon biofuels to supply the growing India domestic market for biodiesel and refined glycerin, as well as export markets. Expanding our steam and power requirements to enable the full operation of the new feedstock pretreatment unit along with our existing biodiesel and glycerin refining units required a substantial investment of time and specialized technical expertise. The entire plant is now capable of operating at 50 MMgy of biodiesel capacity using valuable lower-cost, lower-carbon and waste feedstocks.”
McAfee added, “Importantly, this extensive upgrade to the Kakinada plant was achieved without issuing additional stock or otherwise diluting existing shareholders of Aemetis. Aemetis continues to execute on funding and building projects that generate highly valued, low-carbon biofuels primarily from waste or reused materials.”
In the first three quarters of 2018, the India biodiesel plant produced about 15,200 metric tons of biodiesel during the plant upgrade construction. After the expansion announced Jan. 10, current Kakinada plant capacity is approximately 50 MMgy (about 165,000 metric tons per year) of biodiesel, and approximately 5 MMgy (18,000 metric tons per year) of glycerin refining capacity. The average price of biodiesel sold at the India plant in year 2018 was about $3 per gallon ($900 per metric ton) and glycerin was about $1,000 per metric ton.