Ethanol Blending Current Affairs
Union Food Ministry has notified decision to allow sugar mills to manufacture ethanol directly from sugarcane juice or an intermediate product called B-molasses. In this regard, Sugarcane Control Order, 1966 has been amended. The move would help mills divert cane juice for ethanol manufacturing during surplus years.
Now in case of production of ethanol directly from sugarcane juice or B-molasses, the recovery rate of sugarcane factory will be determined by considering every 600 liters so produced as equivalent to one tonne of production of sugar. Earlier, sugar mills were allowed to manufacture ethanol from by-product called C-molasses, after sugar was taken out while processing raw sugarcane juice. Molasses is also used for manufacturing spirit and alcohol among other products.
Sugar mills are incurring losses as prices of sugar have fallen below production cost on account of record output of 32 million tonnes (mt) in 2017-18 season as against annual domestic demand of 25 mt. The production of ethanol directly from sugarcane juice or B-molasses will help to divert this overproduction. Sugar mills are expecting revenue realisation of over Rs 5,000 crore from sale of ethanol to OMCs during the 2017-18 sugar season (October-September). OMCs procure ethanol from sugar mills for blending with petrol. It has mandated blending of up to 10% ethanol in petrol but inadequate availability has restricted this to under 4%. Higher price for ethanol will incentivise higher ethanol production.
The Union Cabinet has approved National Policy on Biofuels – 2018 in order to promote biofuels in the country. Biofuels in India are of strategic importance as it augers well with ongoing initiatives of Government such as Make in India, Skill Development and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. It also offers great opportunity to integrate with ambitious targets of doubling of import reduction, farmers’ income, employment generation, waste to wealth Creation.
Salient features of Policy
The policy categorises of biofuels to enable extension of appropriate financial and fiscal incentives under each category
- Basic Biofuels: First Generation (1G) bioethanol and biodiesel.
- Advanced Biofuels: Second Generation (2G) ethanol, Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) to drop-in fuels, Third Generation (3G) biofuels, bio-CNG etc.
Expansion scope of raw material for ethanol production: It allows use of sugarcane juice, sugar containing materials like sweet sorghum, sugar beet, starch containing materials like corn, cassava, damaged food grains like broken rice, wheat, rotten potatoes, unfit for human consumption for ethanol production.
Use of surplus food grains: The policy allows use of surplus food grains for production of ethanol for blending with petrol with approval of National Biofuel Coordination Committee. This will ensure farmers get appropriate price for their produce during the surplus production phase.
Incentives to advanced biofuel: Viability gap funding scheme indicated for 2G ethanol Bio refineries of Rs.5000 crore in 6 years for giving special emphasis to advanced biofuels. It also proposes additional tax incentives, higher purchase price as compared to 1G biofuels.
Supply chain mechanisms: The policy encourages setting up of supply chain mechanisms for biodiesel production from non-edible oilseeds, used cooking oil, short gestation crops.
Synergising efforts: It predefines roles and responsibilities of all the concerned Ministries and Government Departments with respect to biofuels to synergise efforts.
Reduce Import Dependency: The ethanol supply will help to reduce import dependency on crude oil which will in turn result in savings of forex.
Cleaner Environment: The use of ethanol will reduce CO2 emissions. It will also reduce Green House Gas emissions by reducing crop burning and conversion of agricultural residues and wastes into biofuels.
Health benefits: Prolonged reuse of cooking oil for preparing food, particularly in deep-frying causes health hazard and can lead to many diseases. By using cooking oil as a potential feedstock for biodiesel will prevent diversion of used cooking oil in the food industry.
Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Management: Using advance technologies waste and plastic in MSW can be converted in use fuels. One ton of such waste has potential to provide around 20% of drop in fuels.
Infrastructural Investment in Rural Areas: Addition of 2G bio refineries across country will spur infrastructural investment in the rural areas.
Employment Generation: Setting up one 100klpd 2G bio refinery contributes to 1200 jobs in plant operations, village level entrepreneurs and supply chain management.
Additional Income to Farmers: By adopting 2G technologies for producing biofuels, agricultural residues and waste which otherwise are burnt by farmers can be converted to ethanol. Through this process farmers can fetch price for these waste. Moreover, conversion of surplus grains and agricultural biomass can also help in price stabilization for farmers.