Amendment in Biofuels Policy

The Union Cabinet recently made amendments to the National Biofuel Policy 2018.

What are the amendments?

The target for achieving 20% ethanol blending in petrol is advanced by five years. Thus, the new target is 2025-26 instead of 2030. Other amendments to the biofuel policy are:

  • Allowing more feedstock for the production of biofuels.
  • Allowing production of biofuels under the ‘Make in India’ program in Special Economic Zones (SEZs), Export Oriented Units.
  • Allowing export of biofuels in some cases.
  • Addition of new members to the National Biofuel Coordination Committee (NBCC), which is the agency that coordinates the blending program.
  • Granting permission to NBCC to change the policy.

What is National Biofuel Policy, 2018, and what are its advantages?

The National Biofuel Policy, 2018 focuses on bioethanol, biodiesel, and bio-CNG. The key parts of the policy are the Ethanol Blending Programme (EPB), production of second-generation (2G) ethanol, R&D in feedstock, etc.

The initial target was to achieve 20% blending by 2030. The Union government announced premium rates for ethanol produced from sugar syrup, cane juice, and B heavy molasses. Excess or damaged foodgrains are allowed to use as feedstock for ethanol production.

The policy aims to reduce dependence on oil imports, thereby cutting down the import bill. It also allows consumers to access environmentally friendly fuel. The policy also enables the sugar industry to diversify its portfolios and become self-reliant.

What is the current status of blending and installed capacity?

Currently, the all-India average blending stands at 9.90%. The installed capacity that sugar mills have for ethanol production is 460 crore liters. To achieve a 20% blending target the country requires a consistent annual supply of 1,500 crores liters of ethanol.

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