India aims to set up biofuel alliance, says minister

Rahul Jain

The 11th edition of the Bioenergy Summit “Energy Transition- Solution for a Sustainable Tomorrow” was organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in New Delhi on January 12th, 2023. It witnessed participation from entrepreneurs, policy-makers, funding agencies and think tanks in the sector. At the plenary session, the impact of biofuels on economic growth and the opportunities emerging for entrepreneurship and enhancing farmers’ income were deliberated.  

Ethanol blending:
On how ethanol blending would help, Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways, said, “The 20% ethanol blending program which requires about 1,000 crore litres of ethanol production per annum, will help India save about Rs 40,000 crores on import bills. This amount could either be disbursed either to farmers directly or spent indirectly for their development and growth."

The first session focussed on compressed biogas (CBG) and highlighted various policies and frameworks for developing and facilitating CBG projects. Market development mechanisms and support from the government, including the development of the market for liquid/solid fertilizers were also discussed. Yet another session highlighted new and emerging technologies in the biofuel sector by product slate (bioethanol, biodiesel, and sustainable aviation fuels), their commercialization progress, and the challenges---from global and Indian perspectives.

Session three deliberated on financing mechanisms, viability gap funding, and price fixation, to mobilize the driving force required to initialize projects. It also discussed the emission reductions market for aligning the transfer of credits and the benefits based on adherence to Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) for carbon credits, to pursue domestic mitigation measures and achieve the objectives of the contributions. The fourth session discussed transition challenges for the ethanol market and learnings from the experiences of successful economies like Brazil. Several important challenges facing the ethanol industry like feedstock availability, pricing, and creation of other enabling ecosystems of retailing, blending, and automobile changes for flex-fuel engines were discussed as well.

The event concluded with the ministerial session where Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister for Petroleum & Natural Gas and Housing and Urban Affairs, said, “The achievement of 17 Sustainable development goals (SDGs) laid down by the United Nations is strongly dependent on the success of India’s missions and programs. It is the right time to upscale India’s biofuel production and under its G20 presidency in 2023, India will aim to set up an “International Biofuel Alliance.”