Ethanol, with the chemical formula C2H5OH, can be made from starch-rich sugar cane, wheat, corn and more. In the country, ethanol is mainly made from sugar cane molasses by a process called fermentation. Ethanol can also be mixed with gasoline to form various blends. Because the ethanol molecules contain oxygen, the engine can burn the fuel more completely, resulting in lower emissions and lower pollution rates. Ethanol is also considered a renewable fuel because it is made from plants that harness the power of the sun. In the year 2003, Ethanol Blended Petrol programme was launched. The program aimed to promote the use of alternative environmentally friendly fuels and reduce the dependence of energy demand on imports.
Ethanol is a type of biofuel, which in other words means that ethanol is produced by processing organic matter. On the other hand, fuels such as diesel and petrol are made by fossilization. These are mainly fossil fuels. Ethanol is enriched in oxygen which makes it easier for the engine to burn fuel. Ethanol also emits fewer pollutants. For this reason, ethanol is blended with petrol.
Implementation of the programme
In the year 2001, a pilot project for ethanol-blended gasoline was launched in three locations. Aonla / Bareilly in the state of Uttar Pradesh and Miraji, Manmad in the state of Maharashtra. In the year 2003, the Indian Government decided to start the EBP program for the supply of 5% petrol mixed with ethanol. Later, the EBP programme was launched in nine states of Gujarat, Goa, Maharashtra, Hariyana, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and four Union Territories.
In the year 2006, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas decided to use 5% ethanol-blended petrol subject to commercial viability. 10 additional States where EBP programme was launched included Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Chandigarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Kerala, Odisha, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar.
This programme has been prolonged to entire of India besides Union Territories of Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar Islands with impact from the year 2019 in which OMCs promote petrol combined with ethanol as much as 10%. During the ethanol supply period of 2018-19, approximately 189 crore litres of ethanol were supplied from grain distilleries and sugar mills, achieving the 5% mixing target with gasoline and 5.6% mixing. In the current Ethanol Supply Year 2020-21, OMC will need to be supplied with approximately 325 Cr liters of ethanol to reach the 8.5% mixing target.
In the year 2021, OMC allocated approximately 349 crore litres of ethanol to the distillery and sugar mill. In addition, the next ESY 2021-22 will supply OMC with ethanol, in excess of 400 crore litres, to achieve a 10% mixture. The government has a 10% mixing target for mixing ethanol and gasoline by the year 2022 and a 20% mixing target by the year 2030.
Bioethanol production is not enough to meet the demand. Sugar factories, the leading domestic supplier of bioethanol, cover only 57.6% of total demand. The financial stability of Indian sugar factories is low. Prices for bioethanol and sugar cane are set by the central government. Therefore, there is potential for uncertainty in the price of bioethanol. The water footprint when producing ethanol in India is difficult. India has become one of the major ethanol producing countries. However, it is still inefficient in terms of water consumption in ethanol production. The availability of sugar cane is limited. To achieve a mixing ratio of 20%, India needs to divert one-tenth of the net sowing area for sugarcane production. When this happens, it puts stress on other plants.
Roadmap for ethanol blending
The roadmap for ethanol mixing in India by the year 2025 was published by the Indian government in the month of June 2021. As part of the roadmap, the government will achieve E10 fuel supply by the month of April 2022 and by the month of April 2025 E20 will contain 20% ethanol in E20 fuel and 10% ethanol in E10 fuel. India uses 8.5% of ethanol as of November 2021.