Last year, the government had set a target of reaching 10 per cent ethanol-blending in petrol (10 per cent of ethanol mixed with 90 per cent of diesel) by 2022, and 20 per cent doping by 2030. Earlier this year, the target for 20 per cent blending was brought forward to 2025.
And now, it has been further advanced to April 2023.
“The Central Government hereby directs that the oil companies shall sell ethanol-blended petrol with a percentage of ethanol up to 20 per cent as per the Bureau of Indian Standards specifications, in the whole of the States and union territories,” the Oil Ministry said in a Gazette notification. “This Notification shall come into force with effect from the 1st April 2023”.
How much ethanol is required for blending:
In the current ethanol supply year, which started in October, India plans to have 10 per cent ethanol-blending with gasoline. As much as 4 billion litres of ethanol will be needed for achieving a 10 per cent mixing ratio.
For 20 per cent by 2023, 10 billion (1,000 crore) litres will be needed. The sugar industry will divert 6 million tonnes of surplus sugar to produce 7 billion litres of the ethanol needed, while the remaining ethanol will be produced from excess grain.
Here are the reasons for promoting ethanol-blending:
Decrease dependence on oil imports: India is the world’s third-biggest oil importer, relying on foreign suppliers to meet over 85 per cent of its demand.
Cleaner combustion: Ethanol, chemically, constitutes oxygen molecules, which in turn help in better combustion of the fuel. This results in lesser tailpipe emission.
Promote renewability: Ethanol blending will reduce the net carbon footprint of the sugar industry. This also acts as a monetary catalyst to the industry.
Challenges of expanding ethanol blending:
Demand outweighs supply: Sugar mills, which are the key suppliers of bio-ethanol, are unable to meet the demand of the oil manufacturing companies.
Investment: Setting up biofuel plants requires a sizeable investment. Moreover, the prices of sugarcane and bioethanol are fixed by a central government which leads to financial uncertainty.
When water bothers: Study suggests, one gallon of ethanol processing requires at least thrice the amount of water. India’s current bioethanol production is met through groundwater reserve, impacting the water footprint.
Safety: Ethanol is highly volatile and inflammable in nature. The risk and cost of ethanol storage, therefore, becomes another handling issue.
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