Biofuel Policy

Bioethanol Blending in Petrol


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Bio-ethanol

Mains level: Ethanol blended petrol programme

The government has set targets of 10 per cent bioethanol blending of petrol by 2022 and to raise it to 20 per cent by 2030 to curb carbon emissions and reduce India’s dependence on imported crude oil.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Given below are the names of four energy crops. Which one of them can be cultivated for ethanol?(CSP 2010)

(a) Jatropha

(b) Maize

(c) Pongamia

(d) Sunflower

What is Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Program?

  • Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) programme was launched in January 2003 for the supply of 5% ethanol blended petrol.
  • The programme sought to promote the use of alternative and environment-friendly fuels and to reduce import dependency for energy requirements.
  • OMCs are advised to continue according to the priority of ethanol from 1) sugarcane juice/sugar/sugar syrup, 2) B-heavy molasses 3) C-heavy molasses and 4) damaged food grains/other sources.

Bio-ethanol blend in India

  • 1G and 2G bioethanol plants are set to play a key role in making bio-ethanol available for blending but face challenges in attracting investments from the private sector.
  • 1G bioethanol plants utilise sugarcane juice and molasses, byproducts in the production of sugar, as raw material, while 2G plants utilise surplus biomass and agricultural waste to produce bioethanol.
  • Currently, domestic production of bioethanol is not sufficient to meet the demand for bio-ethanol for blending with petrol at Indian Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs).
  • Sugar mills, which are the key domestic suppliers of bio-ethanol to OMCs, were only able to supply 1.9 billion litres of bio-ethanol to OMCs equating to 57.6 per cent of the total demand of 3.3 billion litres.

Hurdles in meeting the demand

  • Lack of infrastructure: Many sugar mills are best placed to produce bioethanol do not have the financial stability to invest in biofuel plants. There are also concerns among investors on the uncertainty over the price of bio-ethanol in the future.
  • Lack of raw materials: Presently there is no mechanism for depots where farmers could drop their agricultural waste. The central government should fix a price for agricultural waste to make investments in 2G bioethanol production an attractive proposition.
  • Rigid pricing mechanism: Sugars mills have to pay high prices for sugarcane set by the government even when there have been supplying gluts. The prices of both sugarcane and bio-ethanol are set by the central government.

Way ahead

  • The government should provide greater visibility on the price of bioethanol that sugar mills can expect by announcing a mechanism by which the price of bio-ethanol would be decided.
  • 2G bioethanol not only provided a clean source of energy but also help provide greater income to farmers and prevent them from having to burn agricultural waste which can be a major source of air pollution.

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