21 December 2020.
The government has proposed the adoption of E20 fuel — a blend of 20% of ethanol and gasoline — as an automobile fuel in order to reduce vehicular emissions as well as the country’s oil import bill. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has published a draft notification and invited comments from the public for adoption of the fuel.
What is E20?
- E20 means blending of 20% of Ethanol with gasoline.
- Currently the permissible level of blending is 10% of Ethanol in India.
- In 2019 in spite of the permissible level India reached only 5.6 % of blending.
- Ethanol is a biofuel. It is a common by product of biomass left by agricultural feedstock such as corn, sugarcane, hemp, potato, etc.
GoI initiatives to promote Bio-fuels
- The National Biofuel Coordination Committee has allowed surplus rice that is available with the Food Corporation of India to be converted into ethanol. This shall be used to make alcohol based hand sanitizer and also in blending with the petrol.
- The EBP (Ethanol Blended Programme) programme was launched in 2003 to promote the blending of Ethanol in petrol. The program also aimed to address environmental concerns due to fossil fuel burning, reduce crude imports, provide remuneration to farmers and achieve Forex savings .
- In 2018, the National Policy on Biofuels was launched. It envisages that during an agriculture crop year, if the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare anticipates that there will be an oversupply of food grains, the policy will allow conversion of this surplus quantity into ethanol. However, in order to achieve this an approval from the National Biofuel Coordination Committee is required.
Benefits of E20
- It reduces vehicular emission.
- It reduces oil import bill and therefore saves foreign exchange boosting energy security of the country.
- It reduces emissions of Hydrocarbons and carbon dioxide.
However, the major challenge is the compatibility of vehicles with the percentage of Ethanol in the blend.