The energy demand of India is rising rapidly due to ever-expanding economy, growing population, increasing urbanization, evolving lifestyles and rising spending power. About 98% of the fuel requirement in the road transportation sector is currently met by fossil fuels and only the remaining 2% by biofuels.
However, if utilized optimally, biofuels can be environmentally friendly, sustainable energy sources. They can also help generate employment, promote Make-in-India, Swachh Bharat, doubling of farmers’ incomes and promote Waste to Wealth generation.
Recent milestones for Ethanol:
The Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas in a Lok Sabha statement, during the monsoon session announced an increase in India’s ethanol capacity from 1.53% during Ethanol Supply Year 2013-14 to 7.93% ongoing ESY 2020-21.
Further, E-100 pilot projects have been launched in Pune city by Public Sector Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) to enhance fuel choice and facilitate sale of E-100 fuel.
India’s Ethanol target preponed by five years:
India is among the top 3 countries in the world to efficiently harness renewable energy. It has a target to have 60% renewable energy in the country by 2030. With the right steps taken at all levels to boost the renewable energy ecosystem, India is sure to achieve set targets and become truly aatmanirbhar in harnessing renewable energy.
Prime Minister Modi on International Environment Day (June 5) announced that the target of 20% ethanol blended petrol has been preponed to 2025, by five years.
Further, Secretary, Department of Food & Public Distribution in a statement said that the ethanol distillation capacities will double by 2025. In order to realize the said target, the govt has identified 11 sectors that can stimulate resources by means of recycling, using modern technologies.
Govt’s push: Catalyst for change
The government is all set to boost the Ethanol ecosystem of India. With steps being taken in the right direction, India is inching closer to achieving set targets.
- The entrepreneurs and project proponents are free to set up ethanol plants anywhere in India, without seeking any formal approval from the Government of India.
- Besides, Dept. of Food & Public Distribution (DFPD) is implementing scheme for extending interest subvention at 6% p.a. or 50% of the interest charged by the banks whichever is lower, for 5 years including 1 year moratorium period.
The Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Rameswar Teli in a written reply in the Lok Sabha provided the information that the Central Government does not set up ethanol plants on its own anywhere in India, however it encourages setting up of Ethanol Plants.
- Further, MoPNG has amended the Motor Spirit & High Speed Diesel (Regulation of Supply, Distribution & Prevention of Malpractices) Order, 2005 by permitting the direct sale of Bio-ethanol (E100) by an oil company for use as standalone fuel or blending with motor spirit, for compatible automobiles to all consumers, in accordance with the standards specified by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).
- Ethanol Blending Programme: The pilot projects on Ethanol Blended Petrol started in 2001 at 3 locations i.e. at Miraj, Manmad (Maharashtra) and Aonla/Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh. By January 2003, the Government of India decided to launch the Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme for the supply of 5% ethanol blended petrol in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and 4 Union Territories.
The Ethanol Blended Programme (EBP) has been implemented throughout the country to increase indigenous production of Ethanol, by the Government of India.
Ethanol as an alt-fuel:
Ethanol is one of the principal biofuels, naturally produced by the fermentation of sugars by yeasts or via petrochemical processes such as ethylene hydration. It can work brilliantly as an alternate fuel.
Utility in other sectors: In addition, it also has medical applications as an antiseptic and disinfectant. It can also be used as a chemical solvent and in the synthesis of organic compounds.
– Boost to agrarian industry:
It has the potential to provide additional benefits to farmers if they produce crops that are utilized in ethanol production.
– Big boost to employment:
Since biofuels are produced locally, biofuel manufacturing plants can employ hundreds or thousands of workers, creating new jobs, especially in rural areas.
Biofuel production will also increase the demand for suitable biofuel crops, providing economic stimulation to the agriculture industry.
Impact assessment of Ethanol as fuel:
- Impact on Environment:
Vehicular emissions such as Carbon Monoxide (CO), Hydrocarbons (HC) and Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) are currently under regulation in India. The use of ethanol blended gasoline decreases these emissions, significantly.
E20 fuel ensures a 50% reduction in Carbon Monoxide emissions in two-wheelers and 30% in four-wheelers. Hydrocarbon emissions are also reduced by 20% as compared to normal gasoline. Nitrous Oxide emissions did not show a significant trend as it depended on the vehicle/engine type and engine operating conditions.
Overall, ethanol blending can help decrease emissions from both two-wheelers and four-wheelers.
- Impact on the consumer:
Fuel Efficiency: While using E20 fuel, there will be a drop in fuel efficiency by nearly (a) 6-7% for 4 wheelers designed for E0 and calibrated for E10, (b) 3-4% for 2 wheelers designed for E0 and calibrated for E10, (c) 1-2% for 4 wheelers designed for E10 and calibrated for E20 .
However, with the modifications in engines (hardware and tuning), the loss in efficiency due to blended fuel can be reduced.
Startability: In the E20 project, the results indicated that the test vehicles passed startability and drivability tests at hot and cold conditions with E0 and E20 test fuel. In all the cases, there was no severe malfunction or stall observed at any stage of vehicle operation.
What is ethanol blending?
Ethanol is obtained primarily from sugarcane via fermentation, in India. It has a high oxygen content, thus allowing the engine to combust fuel thoroughly.
It can be mixed with fuels to help reduce vehicular emissions. An ethanol blend is a motor fuel containing ethyl alcohol, which is 99% pure. This ethanol derived from agricultural products is blended exclusively with gasoline.