Biofuel Policy

This government policy can fuel biofuel revolution in India

Biofuel Policy

[pib] First supply of UCO-based Biodiesel flagged off

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Generations of biofuels

Mains level : Paper 3- Used Cooking Oil based biofuel

Eco-system for collection and conversion of UCO into Biodiesel

  • Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas flagged off the first supply of UCO (Used Cooking Oil) based Biodiesel blended Diesel under the EOI Scheme.
  • To create an eco-system for collection and conversion of UCO, Expressions of Interest had been initiated for “Procurement of Bio-diesel produced from Used Cooking Oil” on the occasion of World Biofuel Day on 10th August 2019.
  • Under this initiative, Oil Marketing Companies (OMC) offer periodically incremental price guarantees for five years and extend off-take guarantees for ten years to prospective entrepreneurs.

Advantages

  • This is a landmark in India’s pursuance of Biofuels and will have a positive impact on the environment.
  • This initiative will garner substantial economic benefits for the nation by shoring up indigenous Biodiesel supply, reducing import dependence, and generating rural employment.

Biofuel Policy

E20 Fuel to Cut Vehicular Emissions

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : E20 fuel

Mains level : Ethanol blended petrol programme

The government has proposed the adoption of E20 fuel — a blend of 20% of ethanol and gasoline — as an automobile fuel in order to reduce vehicular emissions as well as the country’s oil import bill.

E20 Fuel

  • E20 is a blend of 20% ethanol with gasoline (petrol) and can be used as an alternative to the fuels currently available.
  • The government is looking at the adoption of mass emission standards for this fuel for transport application.
  • Additionally, it also wishes to facilitate the development of E20 compliant vehicles.
  • The government believes that the E20 blend will not only curb vehicle emissions but help reduce the country’s oil import bill.

Ethanol – Pros and Cons

  • Ethanol is a common by-product that comes from agricultural feedstock like corn, hemp, potato, etc. It can be used as a bio-fuel in Flexi-fuel vehicles.
  • It is greener than gasoline because the corn and crop plantations absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they grow.
  • While the fuel still releases CO2 when you burn it, the net increase is comparatively lower.
  • However, ethanol is less efficient as a fuel. It has lower energy content than energy-rich gasoline and diesel.
  • The rule delivers less power when burned, which in return results in more fuel consumption and lower mileage.
  • Additionally, blends over E20 (20% ethanol) is highly corrosive for older vehicles as the alcohol can break down old rubber seals and can damage engines.

Vehicle compatibility

  • It added the compatibility of vehicles with the percentage of ethanol in the blend would be defined by the vehicle manufacturer, which would have to be displayed on the vehicle with a sticker.
  • Ethanol is a biofuel and a common by-product of biomass left by agricultural feedstock such as corn, sugarcane, hemp, potato, etc.

Biofuel Policy

Bioethanol Blending in Petrol

Note4Students

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.

Biofuel Policy

The evergreen debate of Food versus Fuel

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Provision of biofuels policy 2018

Mains level : Paper 3- Trade offs involved in making fuels from food grains.

The article discusses the recent decision of the government to make alcohol from rice. The move was bound to trigger the debate over food security of the country with a population ravaged by hunger and poverty. While the 2009 biofuel policy had stressed the use of non-food resources, the 2018 updated policy allowed using excess grains. We all want to make a shift towards a green economy but is this the right time? Let’s find out.

What decisions did the government take?

  • The National Biofuel Coordination Committee (NBCC) chaired by the Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas decided to use “surplus” rice available with the Food Corporation of India (FCI) for conversion to ethanol.
  • The objective is to make alcohol-based hand-sanitisers and for the blending of ethanol with petrol. 
  • This decision is not only audacious but also an affront to the millions of people who are deeply affected by food insecurity.

The food question

  • In 2009, the National Policy on Biofuels stressed on the use of non-food resources to avoid a possible conflict between food and fuel.
  • Take the US’s example: In 2018-19, an astounding 37.6 per cent of the corn produced in the US is used for making ethanol.

  • In addition to cereals, oilseed crops like rapeseed, soybean and sunflower were used for biofuel production.
  • Rise in food prices: Such diversion of food crops to produce biofuel was considered one of the reasons for the rise in food prices globally.

What should be India’s strategy in this debate?

  • There is rampant poverty, hunger, and malnutrition in India.
  • India’s position in the Global Hunger Index has slipped nine places, ranking 102 among the 117 countries in 2019.
  • The National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) 2015-16, found that 38.4 per cent of children under five years are “stunted” (height for age) and 21 per cent are “wasted” (low weight for height).
  • In fact, over a period of 10 years, wasting has increased from 19.8 per cent in NFHS-3 to 21 per cent in NFHS-4.

The dictums of 2018 Policy

  • The 2018 National Policy on Biofuels had a target of 20 per cent blending of ethanol in petrol and 5 per cent blending of biodiesel in diesel by 2030.
  • This was to be achieved by increasing production using second-generation bio-refineries and developing new feedstock for biofuels.
  • It allowed the production of ethanol from damaged food grains like wheat and broken rice, which are unfit for human consumption.
  • The new policy allowed the use of excess food grain for ethanol in a bounty crop year, if endorsed by the Union Ministry of Agriculture.

Possible dangers

  • The quantity of rice from which ethanol will be produced has not been announced, nor do we know the price at which such rice will be sold by the FCI.
  • About 85 per cent of rice is Kharif crop, heavily dependent on monsoon.
  • Despite the prediction of a normal monsoon, What happens if the monsoon predictions go wrong? Will we be able to import grain?
  • Less damaged grains: Despite the commonly held belief of a lakh of tonnes of rotting grains, the FCI’s storage practices are actually quite good.
  • Damaged grains as a percentage of total quantity issued by the FCI has been just about 0.01 per cent to 0.04 per cent in the last five years.
  • Hardly any ethanol can be made from such a small amount of damaged grains.
  • Making ethanol from sound quality grains deprives food to humans as well as livestock.
  • At the time when uncertainties are looming large, it is imperative that food security and food price stability be given the highest priority.

Way forward

  • Ethanol can be produced from other ingredients such as B and C heavy molasses, sugar, sugar syrup, and sugarcane juice.
  • Ethanol has also been blessed with a low GST and enjoys relaxed conditions for inter-state movement if used for blending with petrol.
  • Since the economy faces a bleak prospect due to the impact of COVID-19, the government should first use the food grains to meet the requirement of about 10 to 20 crore people without ration cards.

The UPSC could ask a question on the following lines “Diverting food grains for making fuels has always been a contentious issue from the food security angle. At the same time reducing India’s dependence on import for fuels is as much a serious concern. The National Policy on Biofuels-2018 sought to strike the balance between the two. Critically analyse the various provisions of National Policy on Biofuels-2018 which were different from 2009 policy.”

Conclusion

The government must ensure the food safety of the country first and if it still has surplus rice, it must facilitate export to friendly countries which are suffering an adverse impact of COVID-19 on their economies.


Back2Basics: Generations of biofuels

  • There are three types of biofuels: 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation biofuels.
  • They are characterized by their sources of biomass, their limitations as a renewable source of energy, and their technological progress.
  • The main drawback of 1st generation biofuels is that they come from biomass that is also a food source.
  • This presents a problem when there is not enough food to feed everyone.
  • 2nd generation biofuels come from non-food biomass, but still compete with food production for land use.
  • Finally, 3rd generation biofuels present the best possibility for alternative fuel because they don’t compete with food.
  • However, there are still some challenges in making them economically feasible.

Important Provision of ‘National Policy on Biofuels, 2018

  • The government aims at increasing the utilization of biofuels in the energy and transportation sectors of the country by promoting the production of biofuels from domestic feedstock in the coming decade through this policy.
  • Larger goals such as the adoption of green fuels, national energy security, fighting climate change, generating employment, etc. would be facilitated through this policy. Along with that, technological advancements in the field of biofuels will also be encouraged.
  • MNRE has set an indicative target of 20% blending of ethanol in petrol and 5% blending of biodiesel in diesel to be achieved by 2030.
  • The percentage of the same currently stands at around 2% for petrol and less than 0.1% for diesel.

Biofuel Policy

Biojet fuel that powered the IAF aircraft

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : An-32, Biojet Fuel

Mains level : Biojet Fuel and its feasiblity

 

In his monthly Mann ki Baat radio address, PM hailed the use of biofuel in an Indian Air Force transport aircraft.

What did PM cite?

  • IAF’s An-32 aircraft successfully used a 10% blend of Indian biojet fuel and took off from Leh’s Kushok Bakula Rimpoche Airport on January 31.
  • This was the first time that this mix was used in both engines of an aircraft.
  • Leh is at an altitude of 10,682 ft above mean sea level and is among the world’s highest and most difficult operational airfields.
  • Even during clear weather, operating an aircraft at Leh is a challenge, given the reduced power output of the engines in the rarefied atmosphere, turbulent winds, and proximity of the mountains.

What is Biojet fuel?

  • Biojet fuel is prepared from “non-edible tree borne oil” and is procured from various tribal areas of India.
  • This fuel is made from Jatropha oil sourced from Chattisgarh Biodiesel Development Authority (CBDA) and then processed at CSIR-IIP, Dehradun.
  • Generally, it is made from vegetable oils, sugars, animal fats and even waste biomass, and can be used in existing aviation jet engines without modification.
  • Jatropha oil is suitable for conversion to jet fuel. This biojet fuel has received wide acceptance from the airline industry.

Why it matters?

  • Evaluating the performance of biojet fuel under conditions prevalent in Leh was considered extremely important from an operational perspective.
  • The success of the flight validated the capability of the aircraft’s engines to operate smoothly with biojet fuel at the extremities of the operational envelope.
  • The tests were conducted by a team comprising test pilots from the Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE), Bengaluru and pilots from the operational squadrons.
  • The successful test flight also demonstrated the IAF’s capability to absorb newer technology, while sponsoring indigenization.

Biofuel Policy

Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme

Mains level : EBP Programme


  • The Union Cabinet has approved a higher procurement price for ethanol purchased by oil marketing companies for the ethanol blended petrol (EBP) programme.

EBP Programme

  • Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) programme was launched in January, 2003 for 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 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.
  • At present, this programme has been extended to whole of India except UTs of Andaman Nicobar and Lakshadweep islands with effect from 01st April, 2019 wherein OMCs sell petrol blended with ethanol up to 10%.

About the decision

  • According to the new decision, the price of ethanol from C-heavy molasses will be increased from ₹43.46 per litre to ₹43.75 per litre.
  • The price of ethanol from B-heavy molasses will be increased from ₹52.43 per litre to ₹54.27 per litre. The price of ethanol from sugarcane juice, sugar, and sugar syrup has been set at ₹59.48 per litre.
  • The oil marketing companies will also pay the GST and transportation tax associated with the ethanol supply — a provision that existed in the previous plan as well.

Back2Basics

Ethanol

  • Ethanol, an anhydrous ethyl alcohol having chemical formula of C2H5OH, can be produced from sugarcane, maize, wheat, etc which are having high starch content.
  • In India, ethanol is mainly produced from sugarcane molasses by fermentation process.
  • Ethanol can be mixed with gasoline to form different blends.
  • As the ethanol molecule contains oxygen, it allows the engine to more completely combust the fuel, resulting in fewer emissions and thereby reducing the occurrence of environmental pollution.
  • Since ethanol is produced from plants that harness the power of the sun, ethanol is also considered as renewable fuel.

Biofuel Policy

Cabinet approves Petroleum Ministry joining of IEA Bioenergy TCP

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: IEA Bioenergy TCP

Mains level: Various initiatives for waste to energy conversions


News

  • The Union Cabinet has approved the joining of Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas to International Energy Agency’s Bioenergy Technology Collaboration Programme as its 25th member.
  • The other members are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, the US, and the EU.

Harnessing bioenergy sources

  • Bioenergy is renewable energy made available from materials derived from biological sources.
  • Biomass is any organic material which has stored sunlight in the form of chemical energy.
  • As a fuel it may include wood, wood waste, straw, and other crop residues, manure, sugarcane, and many other by-products from a variety of agricultural processes.

About the TCP

  • Bioenergy TCP is an international platform for co-operation among countries with the aim of improving cooperation and information exchange between countries that have national programmes in bioenergy research, development and deployment.
  • IEA Bioenergy TCP works under the framework of International Energy Agency (IEA) to which India has “Association” status since 30 March 2017.

Why join the TCP?

  • The primary goal of joining is to facilitate the market introduction of advanced biofuels with an aim to bring down emissions and reduce crude imports.
  • Benefits of participation in TCP are shared costs and pooled technical resources.
  • It also provides a platform for policy analysis with a focus on overcoming the environmental, institutional, technological, social, ‘and market barriers to the near-and long-term deployment of bioenergy technologies.

Tasks under TCP

  • The R&D work in IEA Bioenergy TCP is carried out carried out within well-defined 3-years programmes called “Tasks”.
  • Each year the progress of the Tasks is evaluated and scrutinized and each 3 years the content of the Tasks is reformulated and new Tasks can be initiated.
  • Technical persons from Public sector Oil Marketing companies will also be contributor in the Tasks participated by MoP&NG.

General Benefits

  • The benefits of participation in IEA Bioenergy TCP are shared costs and pooled technical resources.
  • The duplication of efforts is avoided and national Research and Development capabilities are strengthened.
  • There is an information exchange about best practices, network of researchers and linking research with practical implementation.

Benefits for India

  • Engagement with International Agencies will also apprise the Ministry of the developments taking place Worldwide in Biofuel sector, provide opportunity of personal interaction with innovators/ Researchers and help in bringing suitable policy ecosystem.
  • In addition, after becoming member, India can participate in other related Tasks focussing on Biogas, Solid waste Management, Biorefining etc. which could be participated by relevant Ministries/ Departments/ Organizations of the Country.

Biofuel Policy

[pib] Pradhan Mantri Jl-VAN Yojana

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: PM JIVAN Yojana

Mains level: Aim and particulars of the Scheme


News

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the Pradhan Mantri JI-VAN (Jaiv Indhan- Vatavaran Anukool fasal awashesh Nivaran) Yojana.
  • It aims for providing financial support to Integrated Bio-ethanol Projects using lignocellulosic biomass and other renewable feedstock.

PM JI-VAN Scheme

  • Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas has targeted to achieve 10% blending percentage of Ethanol in petrol by 2022.
  • Therefore, an alternate route viz. Second Generation (2G) Ethanol from biomass and other wastes is being explored by MoP&NG to bridge the supply gap for EBP programme.
  • The PM JI-VAN Yojana is being launched as a tool to create 2G Ethanol capacity in the country and attract investments in this new sector.
  • Centre for High Technology (CHT), a technical body under the aegis of MoP&NG, will be the implementation Agency for the scheme.
  • The policy allows procurement of ethanol produced from molasses and non-food feed stock like celluloses and lignocelluloses material including petrochemical route.

Features of the Scheme

  1. The scheme focuses to incentivise 2G Ethanol sector and support this nascent industry by creating a suitable ecosystem for setting up commercial projects and increasing Research & Development in this area.
  2. The ethanol produced by the scheme beneficiaries will be mandatorily supplied to Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) to further enhance the blending percentage under EBP Programme.
  3. Apart from supplementing the targets envisaged by the Government under EBP programme, the scheme will also have the following benefits:
  • Meeting Government of India vision of reducing import dependence by way of substituting fossil fuels with Biofuels.
  • Achieving the GHG emissions reduction targets through progressive blending/ substitution of fossil fuels.
  • Addressing environment concerns caused due to burning of biomass/ crop residues & improve health of citizens.
  • Improving farmer income by providing them remunerative income for their otherwise waste agriculture residues.
  • Creating rural & urban employment opportunities in 2G Ethanol projects and Biomass supply chain.
  • Contributing to Swacch Bharat Mission by supporting the aggregation of non­food biofuel feedstocks such as waste biomass and urban waste.
  • Indigenizing of Second Generation Biomass to Ethanol technologies.

Implementation

  1. The JI-VAN Yojana will be supported with total financial outlay of Rs.1969.50 crore for the period from 2018-19 to 2023-24.
  2. Under this project, 12 Commercial Scale and 10 demonstration scale Second Generation (2G) ethanol Projects will be provided a Viability Gap Funding (VGF) support in two phases:
  • Phase-I  (2018-19  to  2022-23)
  • Phase-II (2020-21 to 2023-24)

Back2Basics

Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme

  1. Government of India launched Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) programme in 2003 for undertaking blending of ethanol in Petrol.
  2. It aimed to address environmental concerns due to fossil fuel burning, provide remuneration to farmers, subsidize crude imports and achieve forex savings.
  3. Presently, EBP is being run in 21 States and 4 UTs of the country.
  4. Under EBP programme, OMCs are to blend upto 10% of ethanol in Petrol.

Biofuel Policy

Used Cooking oil as aviation fuel

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: RUCO Initiative

Mains level: Harnessing edible oils for biofuel production


News

  • Our household used cooking oil could help fly a jet in the near future.
  • Scientists have successfully tested the conversion of used edible oil into Bio-ATF
  • The CSIR-Indian Institute of Petroleum is looking for partners to commercialise the technology.

Cooking Oil as Bio-ATF

  • The Dehradun-based Indian Institute of Petroleum has successfully finished a pilot test to convert used cooking oil into bio-aviation turbine fuel (Bio-ATF).
  • The used cooking oil can be blended with conventional ATF and used as aircraft fuel.
  • The Institute collected used cooking oil from caterers and hotels in Dehradun for the pilot, which has now set the platform for commercial use of the technology.
  • The chemical composition of the used cooking oil is identical to other plant-based oils that have been converted to Bio-ATF.

Up for a fight test

  • The Bio-ATF derived from used cooking oil is yet to be tested on a flight.
  • The pilot test has proven that it is very similar to Bio-ATF derived from Jatropha oil.
  • A large quantity of Bio-ATF is needed for testing on an actual flight.

On lines with RUCO

  • The test assumes importance as the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has launched the Repurpose Cooking Oil (RUCO) initiative to collect and convert used cooking oil into bio-fuel.
  • As many as 64 companies in 101 locations across the country have been identified for the purpose by FSSAI.
  • The food safety body says that by 2020, it should be possible to recover about 220 crore litres of used cooking oil for conversion into bio-fuel.

Back2Basics

RUCO Initiative

FSSAI unveils initiative to collect, convert used cooking oil into biofuel

Biofuel Policy

[pib] Bio-Jet fuel for Military Aircraft

Note4students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: CELIMAC

Mains level: Uses of bio-fuels


News

  • After months of exhaustive ground and flight trials, the indigenous produced bio-fuel has been finally cleared for use by the premier airworthiness certification agency of the country.

 Bio-Jet Fuel for Military Aircrafts

  1. The Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) conducted various checks and tests conducted on bio-jet.
  2. It has formally granted its approval for use of this fuel, produced from non-conventional source i.e. non-edible vegetable/ tree borne oil to be used on military aircraft.
  3. The bio-jet fuel has been produced from seeds of Jatropha plant sourced from Chhattisgarh and processed at CSIR-IIP’s lab at Dehradun.
  4. This approval enables the IAF to fulfil its commitment to fly the maiden IAF An-32 aircraft with a blend of bio-jet fuel.

 Role of CEMILAC

  1. Any hardware or software which is to be used on Indian military aircraft, including those operated by Indian Navy or Army has to be cleared for use by CEMILAC before being inducted for regular use.
  2. This clearance is a major step for continued testing and eventual full certification of the bio-jet fuel for use on a commercial scale by civil aircraft as well.

Why it is important?

  1. Increased demand of bio-jet fuel would give impetus to increase in collection of tree-borne non-edible oil seeds.
  2. It will help generate ancillary income, increase remuneration for tribal and marginal farmers, and enthuse cultivation/ collection of oilseeds.

India is set to announce a policy on flexible-fuel cars, cars that can run on bio-ethanol and petrol, or a blend of both.

Biofuel production would help farmers by supporting the diversification of agriculture into energy, power and bio-plastics.

What are Biofuels?

Simply put, fuels produced directly/indirectly from organic material i.e. biomass including plant materials and animal waste.

Biofuels can be solid, liquid or gaseous.

Primary Biofuels

Those organic materials which are used in an unprocessed form such as fuel wood, wood chips and pellets, primarily for heating, cooking, electricity production.

Secondary Biofuels

Those materials which result from processing of biomass.
Example: Liquid fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel

What are different generations of Biofuels?

First Generation

The first generation fuels are conventional biofuels made from sugar, starch or vegetable.
Issue: They come from a biomass that is also a food source, so it requires a lot of land to grow at a time when there is food shortage in the world.

Let’s learn about some of the famous examples in this category.

Ethanol – It is a type of alcohol which can be produced by any feedstock containing significant amount of sugar. It can be blended with petrol or burned in nearly pure form in slightly modified spark-ignition engines.

1 litre of ethanol produces energy equivalent to two-third of energy produced by 1 litre of petrol.

Is there any benefit of blending except providing an alternative to sugar industry? Of course, it improves combustion performance and lowers the emissions of Carbon Mono-oxide and Sulfur Di-oxide.

Biodiesel – It is produced by combining vegetable oil or animal fat with alcohol. It can be blended with traditional diesel fuel or burned in its pure form in compression ignition engines.

Source – rapeseed, soyabeen, palm, coconut or jatropha oils.

Energy content is 88-95 % of diesel

Second Generation

They come from non-food biomass such as wood, organic waste, food waste, specific biomass crops.
Issue: The second-generation fuel sources compete with food production for land.

Third Generation

They are specifically engineered crops such as algae as the energy source. These algae are grown and harvested to extract oil within them.

Fourth Generation

They are aimed at not only producing sustainable energy but also a way of capturing and storing carbon-dioxide. They are carbon-negative i.e. it takes away more carbon-dioxide than it produces.

National Policy on Biofuels 2015

The Policy endeavors to facilitate and bring about optimal development and utilization of indigenous biomass feedstocks for production of bio-fuels.

  • It envisages that biofuels will be produced using non-food feedstock on waste lands
  • Encouraged the use of renewable energy resources as alternate fuels to supplement transport fuels
  • Proposed an indicative target of 20% biofuel blending by 2017
  • Major thrust for development of second generation biofuels
  • A Biofuel Steering Committee will be set up to oversee implementation of the Policy

Criticism – Govt launched National Biodiesel Mission identifying Jatropha as the most suitable tree-borne oilseed for bio-diesel production, which failed miserably. The policy is also criticized for being largely sugarcane centric.

What is the proposal under flex-fuel policy?

It aims at decreasing pollution by adopting cleaner alternatives against fossil fuels. It encourages a diversion in the sugar industry’s output away from sugar towards ethanol.

Sugar industry has an excess supply problem and it helps farmers because of diversification of agriculture into energy, power and bio-plastics.

What are the challenges to implement this policy?

  • Additional sugarcane cultivation or it can be met by improved farm practices/HYV canes
  • Installing special dispensing units at petrol pumps across the country
  • Automakers need to be given adequate time to comply
  • Oil marketing companies will have to augment storage capacity for ethanol
  • Reforming tax structure so that transport of ethanol across state boundaries is not expensive
Published with inputs from Pushpendra 
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