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Future of Ethanol Blending in India

India's ethanol production program has seen significant progress in the last five years. india-the-fastest-growing-economy....


  • India’s ethanol production program has seen significant progress in the last five years.
  • Quantities supplied by sugar mills/distilleries to oil marketing companies (OMCs) have increased substantially.
  • The program has diversified its raw material sources from cane molasses and juice to rice, damaged grains, maize, and millets.

History of ethanol blending in India

  • Since 2001, India has tested the feasibility of ethanol­blended petrol whereby 5% ethanol blended petrol (95% petrol­5% ethanol) was supplied to retail outlets.
  • In 2002, India launched the Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme and began selling 5% ethanol blended petrol. However until 2013­-14, the percentage of blending never crossed 1.5%.
  • Standards for E20, E85 and even E100 fuel have also already been laid.
  • Since 2020, India has been announcing its intent to achieve 10% blending by the end of 2022 and 20% blending by 2030.
  • Currently, about 10% of ethanol is blended in petrol.

What are the Challenges Associated with Ethanol Blending?

  • Shift Towards Sugarcane Production: In order to achieve a 20% blend rate, almost one-tenth of the existing net sown area will have to be diverted for sugarcane production.
    • Any such land requirement is likely to put a stress on other crops and has the potential to increase food prices.
    • There are already indications that more sugarcane is being grown and that the Government of India encouraged more corn production at the India Maize Summit in May 2022.
  • Storage Constraint: Annual capacity of required bio-refineries is stipulated to be 300-400 million litres, which is still not enough to meet the 5% petrol-ethanol blending requirement.
    • Storage is going to be the main concern, for if E10 supply has to continue in tandem with E20 supply, storage would have to be separate which then raises costs.
      • E10 fuel is 90 % petrol mixed with 10% ethanol.
      • E20 fuel is 80 % petrol mixed with 20 % ethanol.
  • Food Insecurity: Sugar and cane production that end up in the petrol tank cannot also appear on the dinner plate, in animal fodder, be stored in warehouses, or be exported.
    • India may not find it easy to simultaneously strengthen domestic food supply systems, maintain an export market for grains, and divert grain to ethanol at the expected rate in coming years, and this is an issue that warrants continued monitoring,
  • Instability of Ethanol Movement Between States: There are restrictions on inter-state movement of ethanol due to non-implementation of the amended provisions of Industries (Development & Regulation) Act, 1951 by all the States.
    • Ethanol blending has not been taken up in North-East states due to non-availability of feedstock or industries.
    • In order to develop Ethanol Blended fuels and vehicles on a pan-Indian scale, this concern must be addressed.


  • Biofuels are renewable fuels derived from organic materials, such as plants and animal waste, rather than fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas.
  • They are considered a greener alternative to conventional fuels because they reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote sustainability.
  • The main purpose of biofuels is to provide a cleaner and more sustainable source of energy to replace fossil fuels, which contribute significantly to climate change and environmental degradation.
  • Biofuels also aim to reduce the dependence on imported oil and enhance energy security.
Types of Biofuels
  • Ethanol: Produced from fermenting sugars and starches found in crops like corn, sugarcane, and wheat.
  • Biodiesel: Made from vegetable oils, animal fats, or recycled cooking oil through a chemical process called transesterification.
  • Biogas: Generated from the anaerobic decomposition of organic matter, such as agricultural waste, sewage, and landfill gas.
  • Bioethanol: Derived from cellulosic biomass, such as wood, grasses, and agricultural residues, using advanced technologies.

Way forward:

  • In order to introduce vehicles that are compatible the committee recommends roll out of E20 material-compliant and E10 engine-tuned vehicles from April 2023 and production of E20-tuned engine vehicles from April 2025.
  • The Centre must look at ways to reduce the programme’s dependence on sugarcane.
  • Alternative feedstock like agricultural waste, recycled cooking oil, provides for more environmentally friendly bio-fuels.
  • There is a need to focus on raising the non-cane contribution to the ethanol mix.
  • This can be done by incentivising both public and private players to set up second-generation ethanol facilities.
  • As we progress towards higher blending of ethanol, careful monitoring and assessment of emissions changes will be needed to make sure that emission reduction potential can be enhanced both for regulated and unregulated pollutants.

Read also:- E20 Fuel and Green Hydrogen Production

India- The Fastest Growing Economy,India- The Fastest Growing Economy,India- The Fastest Growing Economy

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