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Biofuel in India

Increased dependency on fossil fuels has created economic anxiety for a country like India. The inevitable injury to the environment has forced us to look for other alternative fuels. Amongst all the available renewable energies, biofuel is one of the best alternatives. Biofuel is not only tender to the environment but also, in the long run, can create a positive transformation in society.

Be it the discharge of industrial waste or vehicle exhaust, fossil fuels remain a primary cause of environmental degradation. Harvard School conducted a study, the results of which were astounding. Around 30 percent of the health casualties in our country occur, due to air pollution. If we consider the world statistics, then around 20 percent of fatalities take place due to the usage of fossil fuels and the pollution caused thereby. However, India is alarmingly dependent on fossil fuels for sustaining all activities, including the production of steel and plastic.

In an ideal scenario, to arrest the intensifying impact of global warming, the carbon emissions from fossil fuels should diminish to half of what it is right now, by 2030. To achieve this, the usage of fossil fuels should also be cut down to half and this is where the challenge lies.

We account for 18 percent of the total world population. India stands third in its consumption of primary energy in the world, only after the USA and China. However, out of the total reserves available in the world, our energy reserves are a microscopic 0.6 percent.

Hence, the only solution is to consistently work on building up new sources of energy supply. As per the National Biofuel Policy, announced by the Government of India in 2018 and 2019, emphasis is being laid to solve India’s energy crisis by focusing on Biofuels.

The per capita consumption of edible oil in India stands at around 19.2kgs. This infers that an average Indian consumes 19.2 kgs of edible oil per year. India’s population is around 139 crores.

Even if 10-20 percent of this massive population starts to contribute used cooking oil, towards the generation of Biofuel, the energy crisis confronting our country could be addressed with ease.

Another major health hazard is the practice of burning agricultural biomass residue in Punjab, Haryana, and Western UP. This causes pollution not just locally but also in the neighboring regions and states. Extremely high particulate matter concentrations pollute the environment and create smog that stays for a long period. Vital components like potassium, nitrogen, and Sulfur are also lost from the top layer of the soil, thus making the land less fertile in the long run. The agricultural waste is renewable and can also be used to produce Bioethanol, instead of incessantly burning it.

The immediate target at hand for India is to reduce the carbon footprint by 35 percent. The timeframe to achieve the above goal was initially set to 2030. To accomplish this target, a few strategies are being implemented; namely increase of domestic production, execution of energy-efficient methods, polishing the refinery practices and processes, increased usage of biofuels, and bringing about demand substitution.

The proposed target is to blend 20 percent ethanol in petrol and to blend 5 percent biodiesel in a diesel by the year 2030. Many similar initiatives will be introduced to encourage the production and usage of biofuels.

Recently, however, given the environmental and energy crisis and to hasten the process, the target year has been shifted to 2025.

Carbon emission reductions or Carbon Credits earned by a country are utilized for investing in schemes that are aimed at reducing greenhouse emissions. India has been generating much lesser CERs, compared to other countries. With focused effort, however, we can earn better carbon credits as well.

The implementation of biofuels will demand consistent feedstock availability. Hence, the Government of India has prioritized the development of technology that will assist in developing advanced biofuels, by using agricultural and other burnt residues.

All the concerned people and organizations will have to unite to successfully implement India’s biofuels blending objectives.