The Union Government has decided to widen the ambit of Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) programme to extract the fuel from excess quantities of bajra, maize, jawar, and fruit & vegetable waste.
• The decision will be valid for procurement of ethanol from year 2018-2019.
• Ethanol blending, i.e. mixing of ethanol in traditional petrol, was first mentioned in the Auto fuel policy of 2003. The programme sought to promote the use of alternative and environment friendly fuels and to reduce import dependency for energy requirements.
• Lately, the National Policy on Bio fuels 2018, approved by the Union Cabinet in May this year, proposes a target of 20% blending of ethanol in petrol and 5% blending of biodiesel in diesel by 2030.
Benefits of EBP Program:
• Reduces Oil Dependence Costs: Our dependence on oil makes us vulnerable to oil market manipulation and price shocks.
• Reduces Climate Change: This will have a direct impact on climate change as ethanol is a cleaner fuel in comparison with fossil fuels. Fuel blended with ethanol emits 60% less carbon dioxide, less amount of particulate matter and carbon monoxide.
• Reduced Knocking: Ethanol has a higher octane rating than ethanol-free petrol. This reduces knocking in the engine.
• More economical: Ethanol is cheaper than petrol as it is cheaper to manufacture from agricultural produce.
• Increasing farmer’s income: In case of India, ethanol production can give higher price for surplus agricultural products to farmers which can help in rural prosperity.
• Increases Energy Sustainability: Oil is a non-renewable resource, and we cannot sustain our current rate of use indefinitely. Using it wisely now allows us time to find alternative technologies and fuels that will be more sustainable.
• Employment Generation: Agriculture in India is suffering from hidden unemployment where access workforce is involved whose impact of productivity is marginal at best. Diversion of some labour force towards biofuel production may help
provide gainful employment to many.
• Waste to Wealth Creation: Ethanol production can reduce the amount of agricultural wastes which can be diverted to produce this bio-fuel.
• Multiple Applications: Biofuels may also be used in nonengine applications such as paint-removal.
• Ethanol itself burns cleaner and burns more completely than petrol it is blended into. In India, ethanol is mainly derived by sugarcane molasses, which is a by-product in the conversion of sugar cane juice to sugar.
Challenges for the EBP Program:
• Since 2006, oil marketing companies (OMC) were not able to meet required quantity of ethanol demand against the tenders floated by them.
- According to data compiled by the Indian Sugar Mills Association, the nationwide average for ethanol blending stood at only 4.02 per cent as on 2018.
• This was because before the National Biofuel Policy 2018, only excess sugarcane production was allowed to be converted into ethanol for procurement under the fuel blending programme.
• 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.
• While India has become one of the top producers of ethanol in recent years, it lags top producers, the US and Brazil, by a huge margin and remains inefficient in terms of water usage.