Ethanol Blending

Ethanol Blending

News: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced that India has commenced the rollout of 20% ethanol-blended petrol this year and the country's aim is to cover the entire nation by 2025.

India’s Ethanol Blending Programme:
• Ethanol (ethyl alcohol) is a biofuel. It is formed by the fermentation of sugar sourced from sugarcane or other organic matter like food grains.
• India started ethanol blending programme in 2003 with an aim to blend 5% ethanol in petrol in nine States and four UTs.
• The ‘National Policy on Biofuels’, 2018 envisaged an indicative target of 20% ethanol blending in petrol (E20) by 2030. It has now been preponed to 2025.

How will India achieve its E20 target by 2025?
• Diversified Feedstocks –In addition to sugarcane many mills/distilleries now use various feedstocks such as B-heavy molasses, direct sugarcane juice, rice, maize, and other grains.
• Increased Production - The country’s ethanol supply to oil marketing companies (OMCs) rose significantly from 38 crore liters in 2013-14 to 559 crore liters in 2022-23. This growth indicates a robust production system in place.
• Higher Yields from Grains - Grains give higher ethanol yields compared to molasses. For instance, rice produces 450-480 liters from one ton, while maize gives 380-400 liters. These higher yields can boost overall ethanol production.
• Consistency in supply of ethanol throughout the year as some companies have innovated technologies where distilleries operate on multiple feedstocks throughout the year.

What are the challenges in ethanol blending?
• Sugarcane is a water intensive crop. Promoting its cultivation may deplete our groundwater.
• Cost of flex-fuel vehicles would be higher compared to ordinary vehicles.
• Producing ethanol will continue to release Carbon dioxide emissions thus net benefit depends on how ethanol is made.
• Transport of ethanol to different places for blending will increase the cost of logistics and transport related emissions.

Way Forward
• Promote alternatives to sugarcane to produce ethanol.
• Higher ethanol blends can be provided with tax benefits just as how electric vehicles are encouraged. 

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