According to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India has taken many initiatives to promote the ethanol business, which he said was one of India’s prime focuses in the 21st century. This is because ethanol has a more significant influence on the environment and the lives of farmers.
In this vein, the government has set a goal of blending 20% ethanol into gasoline (or petrol) by 2025. In 2014, approximately 1.5 per cent of ethanol was blended in India. Ethanol concentration in petrol currently stands at 8.5 per cent.
This article will provide information about the E-100 project in the context of the IAS Exam.
What is the goal of the E-100 Project?
The E-100 Project is an enormous initiative by the Government of India that aims to establish a pan-India ethanol production and distribution network.
What is Ethanol?
- Ethanol is one of the most common biofuels available to humankind. It is made naturally by fermenting carbohydrates (sugarcane juice or molasses) or via petrochemical processes such as ethylene hydration.
- The Indian government has already extended the deadline for blending 20 per cent ethanol into gasoline (commonly known as E20) from 2025 to 2030.
Goals of blending ethanol
Blending using ethanol has the following goals:
- Energy safety – Increased ethanol use can help reduce the cost of oil imports. In 2020-21, India’s net import cost was expected to be USD 551 billion. The E20 initiative can save USD 4 billion per year (approximately Rs 30,000 crore).
- Farmers’ incentives – Oil firms buy ethanol from farmers, supporting communities of sugarcane growers in the process. Furthermore, the government intends to promote the manufacture of ethanol from non-food feedstock and water-saving crops such as maise.
- Emissions impact – Carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC), and nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions are reduced when ethanol-blended gasoline is used (NOx). However, compared to regular gasoline, uncontrolled carbonyl emissions, such as acetaldehyde, were higher with E10 and E20. These emissions, on the other hand, were far lower.
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Importance of Blending Ethanol to the E-100 Project
- The oxygen in the ethanol helps engines burn the fuel entirely and efficiently. As a result, there are fewer emissions and consequently less pollution.
- Ethanol is a natural by-product of the sugar industry and is a renewable energy source, which reduces carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbon emissions.
E-100 Pilot project Recommendations
Some recommendations for the E 100 pilot project are as follows:
- Notifying the ethanol blending roadmap: The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas should immediately inform the plan for pan-India availability of E10 fuel by April 2022, with continued availability for older vehicles until 2025, and the launch of E20 in phases from April 2023 onwards, with E20 available by April 2025.
- Oil marketing companies will need to prepare for the anticipated demand for ethanol storage, handling, blending, and dispensing infrastructure.
- Getting regulatory clearances faster: Ethanol-producing plants and distilleries are classified as “red” and require environmental approval under the Air and Water Acts for new and expansion projects. This frequently takes a long time, causing delays.
- While numerous initiatives have been taken to accelerate environmental clearances (EC) under the Environment Protection Act, there are a few areas of concern that, if solved, will help the country quickly establish ethanol distillation capacity.
- Providing tax benefits for ethanol-blended vehicles: Vehicles that comply with greater ethanol blends are supplied with tax benefits worldwide.
- A similar method might be used to absorb the cost increase associated with the E20 compliant design to some extent, as is being done in several jurisdictions to promote electric vehicles.
- To increase the acceptance of greater ethanol blends in the country, the retail price of such fuels should be lower than regular gasoline to compensate for the lower calorific content and encourage people to switch.
E-100 project Initiatives
These are some E-100 pilot project initiatives that are already taken:
- The National Policy on Biofuels–2018 establishes a target of 20% ethanol blending by 2030 under the Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Program. In addition, the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has made it mandatory for automobiles to display labels indicating E20, E85, or E100 Project compatibility.
- Flex-fuel vehicles will be made possible as a result of this initiative. Flex-fuel engines may run on any blend of blended gasoline between E20 and E100.
- In Pune, the E100 Pilot Project was launched. E80 or pure ethanol is required to run TVS Apache two-wheelers (E100).
- 2019 Pradhan Mantri Ji-Van Yojana (PMJVY): The initiative intends to create an environment conducive to the establishment of commercial projects and the advancement of R&D in the 2G ethanol industry.
- GOBAR DHAN Scheme (Galvanising Organic Bio-Agro Resources): The plan attempts to improve community sanitation while generating cash and electricity from animal and organic waste. It also intends to increase income for farmers and other rural residents by establishing new rural livelihood options.
- The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has started the Repurpose Wasted Cooking Oil (RUCO) program, which will enable the collection and conversion of used cooking oil into biodiesel.
- Building the required infrastructure for ethanol production and purchase is a top priority of India, Prime Minister Modi said in an address last year. Most ethanol manufacturing units are concentrated in 4-5 states with strong sugar output. Still, he shared that food grain-based distilleries are currently being built to expand this across the country.
- India is also aggressively pursuing ethanol plants based on modern technology to produce ethanol from agricultural waste.
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