Public sector undertakings (PSU) are spending on their research and development (R&D) on alternative and renewable energy. PSU’s have in fact, been increasing their outlays for such programmes. Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) has doubled its R&D expenditure from INR0.3 billion to INR0.6 billion, in 2009. The company will commission a pilot at its Faridabad centre, where it will install technology for coal gassification and production of ethanol from biomass.

“We are bullish on investing in forms of alternative and renewable energy. At our R&D centre, we are looking at developing eco-friendly lubricants and producing diesel from algae. We are also looking at tying up with international energy institutes,” IOC R&D Director Anand Kumar, said.

Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL), has increased it R&D spending by 20% from INR0.25 billion in 2008 to INR0.3 billion in 2009. The company may increase spending in the next financial year. The company is focusing on bio-diesel and bio-lubricants, converting biomass into bio-ethanol, nanotechnology, and making more efficient solar photovoltaic cells.

BPCL is also planning to use hydrogen fuel cell technology to generate 1,000 megawatt over the next three to five years.

As per Anand Kumar “Any company cannot base its R&D on fluctuation in crude oil prices. R&D is a lengthy process. Sometimes research takes over five-ten years. If we interrupt the same based on oil prices, we will waste the precious time and money that we have invested.”

Among private oil companies, Reliance Industries Limited, is investing INR3.0834 billion in 2009 for R&D across its businesses. This is lower than the INR3.24 billion it spent under this head in 2008.