India’s ethanol blending policy
- May 21, 2022
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: Uncategorized
India’s ethanol blending policy
- The Union Cabinet recently approved amendments to the National Policy on Biofuels, 2018, to advance the date by which fuel companies have to increase the percentage of ethanol in petrol to 20%, from 2030 to 2025.
- The policy of introducing 20% ethanol is expected to take effect from April 1, 2023.
History of ethanol blending in India
- Since 2001, India has tested the feasibility of ethanol-blended petrol whereby 5% ethanol blended petrol was supplied to retail outlets.
- In 2002, India launched the Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme and began selling 5% ethanol blended petrol in nine States and four Union Territories that was extended to twenty States and four UTs in 2006.
- Until 2013-14, however, the percentage of blending never crossed 1.5%.
- In 2015, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways notified that E5 [blending 5% ethanol with 95% gasoline] petrol and the rubber and plastic components used in gasoline vehicles produced since 2008 be compatible with the E10 fuel.
- In 2019, the Ministry notified the E10 fuel [blending 10% ethanol with 90% gasoline].
- The rubber and plastic components used in petrol vehicles are currently compatible with E10 fuel.
- Standards for E20, E85 and even E100 fuel have already been laid. This includes standards for ethanol blended diesel.
- Since 2020, India has been announcing its intent to achieve 10% blending by the end of 2022 and 20% blending by 2030.
- The Centre has also targeted 5% blending of biodiesel with diesel by 2030.
Effect on Indian Reserves
- India’s net import of petroleum was 185 million tons at a cost of $55 billion in 2020-21.
- Most of the petroleum is used by vehicles and therefore a successful 20% ethanol blending programme could save the country $4 billion per annum, or about ₹30,000 crore.
- India’s current ethanol production capacity consists of 426 crore litres from molasses-based distilleries, and 258 crore litres from grain-based distilleries.
- This is expected to increase to 760 crore litres and 740 crore litres respectively and would suffice to produce 1016 crore litres of ethanol required for EBP and 334 crore litres for other uses.
Effect on engines
- When using E20, there is an estimated loss of 6-7% fuel efficiency for four wheelers which are originally designed for E0 and calibrated for E10, 3-4% for two wheelers designed for E0 and calibrated for E10 and 1-2% for four wheelers designed for E10 and calibrated for E20.
Environmental costs of ethanol blending
- Because ethanol burns more completely than petrol, it avoids emissions such as carbon monoxide.
- However, tests conducted in India have shown that there is no reduction in nitrous oxides, one of the major environmental pollutants.
- For India, sugarcane is the cheapest source of ethanol.
- On average, a ton of sugarcane can produce 100 kg of sugar and 70 litres of ethanol but that would mean 1,600 to 2,000 litres of water to produce 1 kg of sugar, implying that a litre of ethanol from sugar requires about 2,860 litres of water.