Written by, Mr. Kishan Karunakaran, Founder and CEO of Buyofuel
Underlining the importance of switching to cleaner energy sources, India is following a 4-plank energy security strategy. The strategy includes ways such as diversifying energy supplies, increasing exploration and production footprint, alternate energy sources and meeting energy transition through gas-based economy, green hydrogen and electric vehicles.
Taking steps towards a sustainable future with this strategy in mind, the country has come a long way ahead in terms of biofuel production and adoption.
In addition to acknowledging biofuels as the most viable solution to cut dependence on conventional, carbon-emitting fuels, India also sees it as a tool to strengthen its economy—rural and agrarian.
The progress can be gauged from the fact that India which was at 1.53% ethanol blending in petrol in 2013-14 has now advanced its target of achieving 20% ethanol blending from 2030 to 2025. The role of biofuel in India’s future energy supply is crucial for many reasons.
The advantages are majorly environmental and financial. Talking about the financial gains first, it must be noted that the bill of crude oil imports of India doubled to 119 billion dollars in 2022.
The country imported 212.2 million tonnes of crude oil in 2021-22 from 196.5 million tonnes in the previous year. Here, ethanol blending will not just help India save more on petroleum imports but will further support the government in focusing on key areas like health, education, defense, business and others.
The world is already gripped in turmoil due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, geopolitical tensions,supply chain disruptions which further necessitates India to become energy-independent and locally produce energy sources to sustain itself in the coming future.
Accelerating decarbonisation, biofuels which are renewables, support developing a cleaner environment and empower the stakeholders majorly the farmers in rural and semi-urban areas. Thus they become a holistic solution to India’s key issues. Undoubtedly, they are the need of the hour and also a reliable fuel for the future.
Promising alternative to depleting fossil fuels:
Being touted as one of the most promising alternatives to depleting fossil fuels like coal and petrol,
biofuels are made from biomass resources which are cleaner and renewable. These are environment- friendly options which address the global issue of carbon emissions and climate change.
In the current scenario, the country’s reliance on conventional fuels to cater to its electricity demand is not feasible in the long run. The number from India’s Power Ministry says that 42 per cent of the country’s installed electric generation capacity currently comes from non-fossil sources.
India’s major share of electricity comes from coal and petroleum and its products accounted for over 19 per cent of total imports. Urbanisation and industrialisation will take the demand to new heights and thus, it has to look for alternatives like biofuels which can cater to this for years to come.
As compared to fossil fuels, biofuels are renewable, cost-efficient and have lower greenhouse gas emissions. They can be produced from plants, food or animal waste, destroyed crops, etc. They can drastically cut fossil fuel consumption and protect the economy from global disruptions, rising fuel prices, and promote environmental sustainability
Turning food producers to fuel producers
India which is an agricultural economy is already at an advantageous position in terms of biofuels production. The country has agricultural residues in surplus which increases the scope of becoming self- sufficient in its production.
Biofuels which can be obtained from biomass and crops like palm fruit, jatropha, sunflower seeds, and others, can contribute to the empowerment of farmers and turn them from food to fuel producers. Related challenges in the agri-sector like destruction of crops due to lack of storage facilities, stubble burning can be addressed with biofuels.
The coming of the latest technologies, rise of agri-tech start-ups have further made it possible to make biofuels accessible, affordable and available for all to encourage its large-scale adoption to achieve both environmental and economic goals.
The advantages and possibilities in biofuels are huge. With the looming energy crisis, they can cut dependence on crude oil, support economic resilience, improve farmers’ income, benefit start-ups and most importantly, address environmental issues.
Biofuels hold a strategic role in achieving energy security and should be adopted on a large scale to achieve sustainability goals faster.