As India looks to cut carbon emissions and reduce oil imports, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced that the deadline for achieving 20% ethanol-blending with petrol was pushed to 2025 in the country. The government set a target of reaching 10% ethanol-blending in petrol by 2022 last year, and aimed to mix 20% of ethanol mixed with 90 per cent of diesel by 2030.
Earlier this year, the latter target was brought forward to 2025. Currently, about 8.5% ethanol is mixed with petrol as against 1-1.5 per cent in 2014, PM Modi said, adding that higher ethanol blending over the years has led to ethanol procurement jumping from 38 crore litres to 320 crore litres. “It will go up further when 20% blending is achieved,” he added while speaking on the occasion of World Environment Day on June 5.
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Ethanol is a bio-fuel obtained primarily from sugarcane, damaged food grains such as wheat and broken rice. It has a higher octane number than gasoline and hence, it improves the petrol octane number. Mixing it with petrol eases the pressure on India, which is the world’s third-biggest oil importer, and also helps farmers as it provides them with an alternate source of income. It is also environment-friendly as agriculture waste is less polluting.
However, petroleum dealers have to adhere to quality checks. If the mix of ethanol and petrol is as stipulated, it does not do any harm and does not separate from the petrol in tanks.
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Meanwhile, India has been giving soft loans (loans made on terms favourable to the borrower) to sugar mills to increase ethanol production capacity by adding distillation infrastructure to the existing plants. To facilitate a smooth transition process further, the government earlier this week changed rules for companies to set up standalone ethanol production units.
“Ethanol manufacturing units were previously limited to only 4-5 sugarcane producing states but now food grain-based distilleries are being established to expand this to the whole country,” PM Modi said, adding that India is a strong proponent of climate justice and is moving ahead with ideas like the founding of the International Solar Alliance for realising the vision of One Sun, One World, One Grid and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure initiative.