Biomass can be converted into liquid fuels known as “biofuels,” which serve as an alternative to traditional fossil fuels for meeting transportation needs.
The two primary types of biofuels are ethanol and biodiesel, representing the first generation of biofuel technology.
Ethanol is an alcohol blended with gasoline to increase octane and reduce emissions like carbon monoxide, contributing to smog formation.
Biodiesel is a cleaner-burning liquid fuel derived from renewable sources such as vegetable oils and animal fats, acting as a substitute for petroleum-based diesel.
The government introduced the National Biofuel Policy in 2018, aimed at reducing import dependency by promoting fuel blending. Key components of the policy include:
Ethanol Blending Programme (EBP)
Production of second-generation ethanol from forest and agricultural residues
Increased capacity for fuel additive production
Research and development in feedstock for ethanol production
Financial incentives to achieve the policy’s goals.
Originally targeting a 20% blending by 2030, the government advanced the target to achieve 20% ethanol blending in petrol by 2025–26 through an amendment to the National Biofuel Policy-2018.
The National Biofuel Coordination Committee (NBCC), led by the Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, is responsible for coordinating the blending program.
The policy aims to increase biofuel availability in the market, achieving a target of 20% ethanol blending in petrol by 2025–26 and 5% blending of biodiesel in diesel or direct sale of biodiesel by 2030. The goals are to be achieved through:
Increasing domestic production of ethanol and biodiesel
Establishing Second Generation (2G) biorefineries
Developing new feedstock for biofuels
Innovating new conversion technologies for biofuels
Creating a suitable environment for integrating biofuels with mainstream fuels.
The National Policy on Biofuel aligns with the “Make in India” program, encouraging domestic biofuel production and enjoying excise duty exemptions to promote its manufacturing.
The policy supports the utilization of excess rice or damaged food grains as feedstock for ethanol production.
Government reports indicate significant growth in ethanol procurement, rising from 38 crore liters in 2013–14 to 322 crore liters in 2021–22, showcasing the policy’s positive impact on biofuel production.