India Fast Facts

India’s Push for Ethanol Blending: A Step Toward a Renewable and Clean Fuel

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

By Rudra Saxena and Jiyen Khullar, 27 January 2023

In June 2022, India was able to achieve its ethanol blending target of 10 percent, also called E10, five months ahead of schedule. The government’s next target is to achieve a 20 percent blend or E20 by the end of 2025. To lessen India’s reliance on fossil fuels and reduce carbon emissions and air pollution, ethanol has been identified as an essential biofuel.

Ethanol is a renewable fuel and burns cleaner than petrol1 , resulting in lower particulate matter (PM 2.4 and 10) and tailpipe emissions, contributing to reducing air pollution. According to a NITI Aayog report, an E20 blend leads to greater reductions in carbon monoxide emissions, which were 50 percent lower in two-wheelers and 30 percent lower in four-wheelers. Compared to regular petrol, ethanol blends have a 20 percent reduction in hydrocarbon emissions at a 20 percent blend rate.

In addition to contributing to the environment, ethanol has several other benefits. For instance, it provides additional income to farmers, reduces dependence on oil imports and benefits consumers as it naturally has a high-octane number.

Ethanol blends well with petrol and can be used in most gasoline engines without any alterations, at the current 10 percent blend levels. However, to achieve the ambitious blending of 20 percent, there are two key areas India will need to achieve – to increase ethanol production capacity from the current 700 to 1500 million liters and to ensure new and existing vehicles are compatible with a 20 percent blend.

Similar to Brazil, the Indian government plans to introduce FFVs, or Flex Fuel Vehicles, which can run on zero to E85 blended fuel (an ethanol-petrol blend that contains 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent petrol). This will go a long way in reducing emissions and saving on India’s crude import bill. Once the country achieves 20 percent ethanol blending, India will be the second-highest ethanol blending country behind only Brazil – which currently blends at 27 percent.

Rudra and Jiyen are students at the Ashoka University, majoring in Economics and Finance, and Computer Science.

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