Biofuels are projected as one of the viable future energy alternatives. India has managed to achieve only 5% blending of ethanol due to certain technical, market and regulatory hurdles. Now the updated policy is seen as a silver lining to boost biofuel usage and reduce the existing dependency on fossil fuel.
- Ethanol blending policy
- Challenges for fuel blending
- 2G biofuels
- Biomass stubble and ethanol
Ethanol Blending policy:
- The proposed ethanol policy will focus on the key features of manufacturing, sale, utilization and blending.
- The policy has proposed a roadmap, which would “increase blending by states from 5 percent to 12-15 percent by 2026, and then increase to 20 percent by 2030.”
- Under the proposed policy, the government is likely to allow use of grain for ethanol and is likely to allow use of maize to supplement ethanol supplies from cane/molasses in the next two-three months.
- The government would fix ethanol prices by next quarter for maize and is likely to fix realistic transport rates at par with petrol to address the price issue.
- To fix transportation challenges the policy will enable creation of pipeline infrastructure for ethanol movement.
- On GST rates, the government is likely to reduce 28 percent GST on molasses, and reduce 18 percent on special denatured spirit to 5 percent. (GST on ethanol is 5 percent from July 2018).
- The policy will proportionately reduce India’s dependence on the volatile international crude market to ensure limited price fluctuations.
- It will help correct unstable pricing, high taxes and duties and heavy state control on movement.
- Reduce sugar exports in three years by diverting sugar producers into ethanol.
Challenges for ethanol blending:
- The current domestic production of bioethanol is not sufficient to meet the demand for bio-ethanol for blending with petrol at Indian Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs).
- In India, sugarcane molasses is the major resource for bioethanol production and inconsistency of raw material supply is a major obstacle to blending targets.
- Blend wall is the other challenge towards the biofuel targets. (Blending wall is the maximum percent of ethanol that can be blended to fuel without decreasing the fuel efficiency).
- Ethanol being a highly flammable liquid needs safety and risk assessment measures during all phases of production, storage and transportation.
- The non-uniform distribution of raw material throughout the country demands a compulsory transportation and storage, especially inter-state movement, encountering diverse climatic and topographic conditions.
- The price of obtaining agricultural waste required for the production of bio-ethanol at 2G plants was currently too high for it to be viable for private investors in the country.
- Second-generation biofuels, also known as advanced biofuels, are fuels that can be manufactured from various types of non-food biomass.
- 2G biofuels are made from different feedstocks and therefore may require different technology to extract useful energy from them.
- These feedstocks include lignocellulosic biomass or woody crops, agricultural residues or waste, dedicated non-food energy crops grown on marginal land unsuitable for food production.
- It is more expensive than first-generation ethanol.
- The development of 2G biofuels has seen a stimulus since the food v/s fuel dilemma regarding the risk of diverting farmland or crops for biofuels production to the detriment of food supply.
Biomass stubble and ethanol:
- 2G bioethanol helps to provide greater income to farmers and prevent them from having to burn agricultural waste which is a major source of air pollution.
- As Punjab and Haryana struggle to deal with the stubble burning menace, Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL)’s set up an ethanol plant at Panipat.
- It will convert rice straw into ethanol, thus serving the dual purpose of discouraging stubble burning while also providing them returns for their agricultural waste.
- It also aids in the fulfilment of the goal of ‘doubling farmers’ income by 2022’.
- The project is based on indigenously developed technology and will not leave any waste behind and will produce ethanol with negligible emission from the boiler.
- Stubble burning contributes to about 48% of the total emission in Haryana and Punjab and Haryana is the second largest producer of paddy waste in the country after Punjab.
About the plant:
- This is the first commercial project in the country which will directly convert paddy straw to ethanol.
- Ethanol production capacity: 100 kiloliters
- Stubble consumption capacity: 425.5 metric tons
- Employment generation: 1,350 persons
- Expected to be functional by: August 2021
- Bring out the salient features of the proposed Ethanol policy. What hurdles stand in the path of promoting bio-ethanol?
Approach to the answer:
- Define ethanol blending
- Write down the features of newly updated policy
- Mention the challenges for ethanol blending
- Way forward