India Fast Facts

Focus on Ethanol as a Renewable and Reliable Fuel at The Auto Expo 2023

by | Jan 30, 2023 | In the news | 0 comments

By Arnav Mehra and Manav Sharma, 25 January 2023

Biennially held in India, the Auto Expo is one of the largest automotive trade fairs in Asia which sees participation from automobile manufacturers, OEMs and stakeholders of the automobile industry from India and around the world. This year, the Expo featured a wide range of automobiles including cars, two-wheelers, trucks and buses, and new fuel technologies like electric, hybrid and flex-fuel vehicles.

Given the Indian Government’s focus towards higher ethanol blending, for the first time this year the Expo featured an Ethanol Pavilion to create awareness about ethanol as a renewable and reliable fuel for automobiles and promote its adoption and use. The Pavilion saw participation from stakeholders like The Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA), Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), Praj Industries, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL), the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), UNICA – The Union of the Sugarcane and Bioenergy Industry of Brazil, Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association of the U.S.

Mr. Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs, visited the pavilion and spoke about the benefits of ethanol, and reiterated India’s commitment to achieving a 20 percent blending mandate by 2025. Mr. Puri said that India had advanced from ethanol blending of 1.53 percent in 2013-14 to a 10.17 percent blending in 2022. That, this increased use of ethanol had translated into savings of ₹41,500 crore of forex (Over USD 5 billion), reduced greenhouse emissions by 27 lakh million tonnes and helped farmers with payments worth ₹40,600 crores (Approx. USD 5 billion) in the last 8 years.

In the Minister’s presence, Mr Vinod Aggarwal from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) and Mr Josh Miller from The U.S. Grains Council signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with an objective to support higher domestic ethanol blending by creating awareness about its use, increase domestic production, ensure automotive compatibility, and create a favourable policy environment.

Ethanol is a biofuel that is made primarily from sources such as sugar cane, corn, and other food grains. It is a renewable fuel source that is domestically produced in the country and helps to reduce dependence on foreign oil as well as fossil fuels. Using ethanol as a blend with gasoline, in varying quantities like E10 (10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline), E15, E27 and E85 is a common practice in several countries like Brazil and the United States. One of the key benefits of using ethanol is that it reduces emissions and smog-forming pollutants, making it an environmentally friendly option.

With climate change being a priority globally, significance of ethanol has increased as it lowers the carbon content in petrol and helps reduce particulate matter emissions, contributing to better air quality. As Ethanol has a high-octane number of 113, it reduces engine knocking and helps improve fuel and engine efficiency. The high-octane rating of ethanol allows for higher compression ratios in engines, which potentially results in efficient combustion and more power.

Today many countries, such as Brazil, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom, China and France, have integrated ethanol into their fuels. For instance, Brazil has a high ethanol blend of 27 percent with petrol while the U.S. has a mandate of 10 percent blend and provides consumers to choose from a variety of different blends like E15, E30 and E85 at the fuel stations. The Indian government achieved its 10 percent blending in June 2022, five months ahead of its November 2022 target, and aims to achieve a 20 percent blend by 2025.

Increased use of ethanol and India moving towards a 20 percent blend will not only contribute to India reducing its oil import bill but will also go a long way in reducing our carbon emissions and dependence on fossil fuels.

Arnav and Manav are students at the Ashoka University, majoring in Economics and Psychology.

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