India has been trying to reduce its dependence on foreign fuel. As soon as I mention “trying to reduce our dependence on foreign fuel, “The first thing that comes to mind is that we will use energy sourced locally from our country. Well, it isn’t that simple. We are aware that the supply of fossil fuel isn’t that stable, so India is trying to reduce its dependence on Fossil Fuels by relying on Alternative fuels Such as Ethanol Ethanol biofuel, which means that it is not a byproduct of crude oil.
Ethanol is manufactured from Sugarcane, Bamboo, Corn, and even rotten potatoes. Now all of these crops are grown extensively in our country. So the government of India, noting the fact that these crops are grown considerably in our country. Ethanol can be manufactured from these crops and noting that Ethanol can serve as an efficient biofuel and has been trying to promote Ethanol as a Bio-Fuel They did this specifically by announcing a policy known as a national policy on Bio-Fuels.
The plan is relatively simple. Increase ethanol production, start mixing Ethanol with petrol, and gradually increase Ethanol’s percentage in this petrol-ethanol blend to reduce our dependence on foreign fossil fuel. The rate at which Ethanol is blended with another fossil fuel is called the Target Blend Rate. So far, India plans to achieve a target blend rate of 10% by 2022, which means that by 2022, the fuel we’ll be using is 10% ethanol and 90% petrol. By the year 2030, India plans to achieve a target blend rate of 20%, which means 20% ethanol and 80% petrol. This is a great initiative. We have a lot of challenges in our way. Let’s look at the first challenge: the amount of Ethanol available to be used as alternative fuel Though we manufacture a lot of Ethanol. Ethanol is used for a lot of purposes. Let us take, for instance, the year 2016. Though we produced 300 crore liters of Ethanol, used half of this in the manufacture of liquor. We used Another 60 crore liters to make chemicals, which leaves us with less than 100 crore liters for biofuel use.
Because of this uneven distribution, we have to import 20% of Ethanol from the US now. This is not precisely the growth we are looking forward to. The second issue concerning Ethanol is that Ethanol is manufactured from sugarcane, and sugarcane as such is grown in drought-prone areas such as Karnataka and Maharashtra now. Sugarcane is a water-guzzling crop, which means that it consumes a lot of water as it is produced, which means that it’s not the best crop to grow in an area where drought is very severe. This makes things unreliable in using sugarcane in manufacturing Ethanol. Now, we also have to look at the future. In the end, we plan on achieving a target blend rate, which means that we plan on using a higher percentage of Ethanol in the ethanol-petrol blend. But this means that we have to consider an essential factor in this whole equation, which is that of vehicles Right now, cars can use a mixture of Ethanol and petrol as long as the percentage of Ethanol is low. Still, if we start going for higher and higher rates of Ethanol in this ethanol-petrol blend, we also have to change our vehicles. For this, we need to consider the country of Brazil.
Brazil has been trying to promote the use of Ethanol since the 70s. They even manufactured cars that run entirely on Ethanol. However, what happened in the late 90s is that crude oil prices started crashing, which means that petrol, diesel, and other crude oil derivatives became cheaper and cheaper.
In Brazil, car buyers stopped buying cars that run on Ethanol and started buying cars that run on byproducts of crude oils such as petrol and diesel; however, in the early 2000s. The Brazilian govt to revive Ethanol’s use as an alternative fuel pushed for the manufacture of a type of vehicle known as flex-fuel vehicles.
What is a flex-fuel vehicle?
This means that this vehicle can run on any combination of Ethanol and petrol in the ethanol-petrol blend, which means that these vehicles could run on a low percentage of Ethanol in this blend or a high percentage of petrol ethanol-petrol blend. Must note here that even in India, policymakers have been vocal about using flex-fuel vehicles, But we’ve also been various other things in this aspect.
For example, we have been pushing for electric vehicles. We have also been making for every car manufactured in 2020 to conform to the BS-VI emission standard. On the outside, it appears that we might be doing too many things at once. This is not a great approach because to implement each of these approaches, and we need to change the production facilities, which takes a lot of time and takes a lot of money. If there is no clarity on which approach to focus on, we might not make that much progress.
The bottom line
Though we face challenges in adopting Ethanol as an alternative fuel, we must still keep making progress in this area, as this is a great way to reduce our dependence on foreign fuel.