10th Sep, 2019
Government has hiked ethanol procurement price for blending with petrol, allowed conversion of old sugar into ethanol.
- The government has approved an increase in the price of ethanol to be procured by public sector oil marketing companies (OMCs) from sugar mills for blending with petrol for the 2019-20 supply year from December 1.
- Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has also allowed conversion of old sugar into ethanol, which again is expected to help mills deal with the current overproduction in the sweetener and make timely payments to farmers for the cane delivered by them.
- It has thus allowed mills to produce ethanol from heavy molasses and directly from sugarcane juice.
- The CCEA approved even use of sugar and sugar syrup for production of ethanol; mills can simply add these to the molasses mother liquor for further fermentation.
- Biofuels in India are of strategic importance as it augers well with the ongoing initiatives of the Government such as Make in India, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Skill Development and offers great opportunity to integrate with the ambitious targets of doubling of Farmers Income, Import Reduction, Employment Generation, Waste to Wealth Creation.
- Biofuels programme in India has been largely impacted due to the sustained and quantum non-availability of domestic feedstock for biofuel production which needs to be addressed.
- Biofuels are liquid or gaseous fuels primarily produced from biomass, and can be used to replace or can be used in addition to diesel, petrol or other fossil fuels for transport, stationary, portable and other applications.
- Crops used to make biofuels are generally high in sugar (such as sugarcane, sugarbeet, and sweet sorghum), starch (such as maize and tapioca) or oils (such as soybean, rapeseed, coconut, sunflower).
Categories of biofuels
Biofuels are generally classified into three categories. They are
- First generation biofuels - First-generation biofuels are made from sugar, starch, vegetable oil, or animal fats using conventional technology. Common first-generation biofuels include Bioalcohols, Biodiesel, Vegetable oil, Bioethers, Biogas.
- Second generation biofuels - These are produced from non-food crops, such as cellulosic biofuels and waste biomass (stalks of wheat and corn, and wood). Examples include advanced biofuels like biohydrogen, biomethanol.
- Third generation biofuels - These are produced from micro-organisms like algae.
Ethanol Blended with Petrol (EBP) programme:
- EBP programme was launched by the government in 2003 to promote the use of alternative and environmental friendly fuels.
- This intervention also aimed to reduce import dependency for energy requirements, and give boost to the agriculture sector (supply of straw, additional income to farmers).
- Oil marketing companies (OMCs) were mandated to sell ethanol blended petrol with percentage of ethanol up to 10 per cent. The government allowed procurement of ethanol produced from non-food feed stocks, like cellulosic and ligno-cellulosic materials, including petrochemical route.
- Ligno-cellulosic materials: It describes the main constituents in most plants, namely cellulose, hemicelluloses, and lignin. Lignocellulose is a complex matrix, comprising many different polysaccharides, phenolic polymers and proteins. Cellulose, the major component of cell walls of land plants, is a glucan polysaccharide containing large reservoirs of energy that provide real potential for conversion into biofuels. It is the non-starch based fibrous part of plant material
National Policy on Biofuels 2018:
- The Policy categorizes biofuels as "Basic Biofuels" viz. First Generation (1G) bioethanol & biodiesel and "Advanced Biofuels" - Second Generation (2G) ethanol, Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) to drop-in fuels, Third Generation (3G) biofuels, bio-CNG etc. to enable extension of appropriate financial and fiscal incentives under each category.
- The Policy expands the scope of raw material for ethanol production by allowing use of Sugarcane Juice, Sugar containing materials like Sugar Beet, Sweet Sorghum, Starch containing materials like Corn, Cassava, Damaged food grains like wheat, broken rice, Rotten Potatoes, unfit for human consumption for ethanol production.
- Farmers are at a risk of not getting appropriate price for their produce during the surplus production phase. Taking this into account, the Policy allows use of surplus food grains for production of ethanol for blending with petrol with the approval of National Biofuel Coordination Committee.
- With a thrust on Advanced Biofuels, the Policy indicates a viability gap funding scheme for 2G ethanol Bio refineries of Rs.5000 crore in 6 years in addition to additional tax incentives, higher purchase price as compared to 1G biofuels.
- The Policy encourages setting up of supply chain mechanisms for biodiesel production from non-edible oilseeds, Used Cooking Oil, short gestation crops.