Current Affairs Biofuel in India

Biofuels in India

In August 2018, Rajasthan has become the first State in the country to implement the National Policy on Biofuels in India.

Implementation of the National Policy by Rajasthan:
• The Rajasthan government has set up a biodiesel (manufactured from vegetable oils, inedible oilseeds, used cooking oil, crop waste, recycled grease, algae, and animal
fat) plant having a capacity of eight tones a day.
• Rajasthan also had one of the first National Policy on Biofuel in 2006, laying emphasis on the development of Jatropha, Karanj & other oil seed’s cultivation, research, processing, marketing & development of other basic infrastructure.
• A separate agency called the “Biofuel Authority” under administrative control of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj Department was constituted in the year 2007 itself.
• 12 districts of Rajasthan viz. Baran, Banswara, Bhilwara, Bundi, Chittorgarh, Dungarpur, Jhalawar, Kota, Rajsamand, Sirohi, Udaipur & Pratapgarh have been identified as suitable for plantation of Jatropha.

Silent Features of the National Policy on Biofuels 2018:
• The National Policy on Biofuels has set a target of 20% blending of ethanol in petrol and 5% blending in diesel by 2030.
• India is expected to need 10 billion liters of ethanol annually to meet the 20% blending target in 2030 if petrol consumption continues to grow at the current pace. At present, the capacity stands at 1.55 billion liters a year.
• The Policy categorises biofuels into the following two categories to enable extension of appropriate financial and fiscal incentives under each category.

  •  “Basic Biofuels” – First Generation (1G) bioethanol & biodiesel.
  •  “Advanced Biofuels” – Second Generation (2G) ethanol, Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) to drop-in fuels, Third Generation (3G) biofuels, bio-CNG etc.

Increase Raw Materials: The Policy expands the scope of raw material for ethanol production by allowing use of Sugarcane Juice, Sugar containing materials like Sugar Beet, Sweet Sorghum, Starch containing materials like Corn, Cassava, Damaged food grains like wheat, broken rice, Rotten Potatoes, unfit for human consumption for ethanol production. The Policy encourages setting up of supply chain mechanisms for biodiesel production from non-edible oilseeds, Used Cooking Oil, short gestation crops.
Increase Farmer’s income: Farmers are at a risk of not getting appropriate price for their produce during the surplus production phase. Taking this into account, the Policy allows use of surplus food grains for production of ethanol for blending with petrol with the approval of National Biofuel Coordination Committee.
Funding: With a thrust on Advanced Biofuels, the Policy indicates a viability gap funding scheme for 2G ethanol Bio refineries of Rs. 5000 crore in 6 years in addition to additional tax incentives, higher purchase price as compared to 1G biofuels.
Role of the States: State Government are expected to emphasize on raising the production of oilseeds, promoting research and development in this arena, besides marketing on the same, through advertisements spreading awareness. The State Government will also establish women-driven Self-Help Groups (SHG) through the State Rural Livelihood Council for encouraging the use of biofuels.

About Biofuel:

• Biofuel is a generic term that refers to fuel derived from biomass, such as plants and organic wastes. Recently animal fat, waste stream of vegetative oil, used cooking oil and agriculture residues are also being used to derive biofuel.
• Biofuel is made from the trans-esterification of vegetable oils. The trans-esterification process removes and breaks larger and more viscous vegetable oil molecules that do not combust well in modern diesel engines.
Classification of Biofuels: Biofuels are generally categorized into the following 4 generations: viz.

Benefits of Biofuels:
• Reduce Dependence of Petroleum: About 80% of the India’s
demand for oil products is met through imports. The oil import
bill is predicted to rise to $87 billion in 2018-19.

  •  The oil prices are also liable to fluctuations to prices of international crude oil.
  •  Moreover, biofuel can be used as fuel in vehicles with little or no modification.

Environment Friendly: Reduction of greenhouse gas (carbon dioxide, Oxides of Sulphur and Nitrogen, etc.) emissions. While burning, it emits 60% less carbon dioxide.
Health benefits: Prolonged reuse of Cooking Oil for preparing food, particularly repeated and deep-frying is a potential health hazard and can lead to many diseases.
Used Cooking Oil is a potential feedstock for biodiesel and its use for making biodiesel will prevent diversion of used cooking oil in the food industry.
Waste Disposal: Biodegradable and Municipal Solid Waste may be converted into biofuels.

Alternative Energy Source: There are technological and geographic limitations for the use of solar energy and wind energy as alternatives for petroleum products. Biofuels provide a feasible alternative to fossil fuels.

Multiple Applications: Biofuels may also be used in non-engine applications such as paint-removal.

Employment Potential: Creation of job opportunities for local people by construction and operation of Biofuel plant & production of Jatropha.
Infrastructure: Development of Jatropha farmlands will lead to development of incidental infrastructure such as roads etc.
Increase Farmer’s Income: It will help farmers get rid of their surplus inventory in an economical, eco-friendly and efficient manner. Farm residue like stubbles, farm wastes may be sold for the production of Biofuels.

Challenges in Development of Biofuels in India:
The government of India launched Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) program in January 2013 for 5% ethanol blended petrol. But currently, the ethanol blending in petrol is 2% and less than 0.1% in diesel.

Raw Material: Inconsistency in the supply of sugarcane molasses, the main raw material for Bioethanol, was the major culprit for slow implementation of the blending targets.
Safety Concerns: Ethanol being a highly flammable liquid needs obligatory safety and risk assessment measures during all phases of production, storage and transportation.
Competition for Ethanol: Major ethanol consumers in India are potable liquor sector (45%), alcohol based chemical industry (40%), with only the remaining available for blending.
Technology Constraints: The technology for manufacturing biofuel from cellulosic and lignocellulosic biomass and solid litter is still in the evolving stage.
Investment: Huge investments is required for creating bio refinery capacity.

Concerns regarding the National Policy on Biofuel:
Diversion of Land: There are chances of diverting arable agricultural land for the production of energy crops like Jatropha.

Diversion of food Products: There is a possibility of over-utilization of agro-products for producing biofuels which may lead to shortage of food items like sugar.
Ecological Concerns: This policy may encourage farmers to grow more Sugarcane. This would become an ecological disaster as sugarcane is a water-intensive crop.

Conclusion:
• Adoption of National Policy on Biofuel 2018 by Rajasthan has set an example for other states in direction of sustainable and ecological development.
• Globally, biofuels have caught the attention in last decade and it is imperative to keep up with the pace of developments in the field of biofuels.
• Biofuels in India can contribute positively to Make in India, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Skill Development, Doubling of Farmers Income, Import Reduction, Employment Generation, Waste to Wealth Creation.

1st Biofuel Commercial Flight
• India’s first biofuel based commercial flight took flight from Dehradun to Delhi.
• The aircraft’s right engine was filled with 75 per cent aviation turbine fuel (ATF) and 25 per cent of biojet fuel made from Jatropha plant.
• India will be first developing nation to experiment biofuel test flight. Some developed countries like Canada, Australia and USA have already conducted these test flights.
• According to global airlines’ body International Air Transport Association (IATA), aviation industry contributes to 2 per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions.