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India can triple biofuel output in 5 years, IEA says

Indian government’s 5% biodiesel target by 2030 would require almost 4.5 billion liters of biodiesel per year, IEA says

India can triple biofuel output in 5 years, IEA says
[Source photo: Chetan Jha/Press Insider]

India is now the world’s third largest producer and consumer of ethanol, and has the potential to nearly triple both consumption and production with the right policies, an International Energy Agency (IEA) report said. 

“Over the next five years it has the potential to nearly triple consumption and production by removing roadblocks to higher ethanol blends and diversifying biofuel use to replace diesel and jet fuel,” IEA analysts Jeremy Moorhouse and Astha Gupta said in the report.

The country will, however, need to keep an eye on costs, feedstock sustainability, and deploy supportive policies to other biofuels beyond ethanol, they added. 

The IEA noted that the Indian government’s 5% biodiesel target by 2030 would require almost 4.5 billion liters of biodiesel per year. 

Mobilizing production will require a similar mix of policies as provided for ethanol including production support, guaranteed pricing, and feedstock support, especially for mobilizing residue oils like used cooking oil and vegetable oils grown on marginal land, the analysts said. 

India has upped its renewable energy goals in the recent years as it eyes the target of net zero emissions by 2070.

Inaugurating the India Energy Week 2024 summit at Goa this week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi drew attention to India’s growing adoption of alternative energy sources such as biofuel and green hydrogen. 

The government also has the target to increase the present installed nuclear power capacity from 7480 MW to 22800 MW by 2031-32. 

The IEA noted in its report that India has an opportunity to boost global biofuel deployment as well through the Global Biofuels Alliance (GBA), which it launched in 2023 with leaders from eight other countries.

Ambitious targets for biojet fuel are another growth area for India.

In 2018, India through National Policy on Biofuels, which included ambitious blending targets for ethanol and biodiesel by 2030, also advanced the ethanol blending target to 20% by 2025-26.

The IEA, referring to a government announcement of 25 November 2023, said that India unveiled ambitious blending targets for international flights departing from the country.

These targets aim for a blending rate of 1% by 2027 and 2% by 2028. This initiative is expected to require approximately 100 million liters of bio jet fuel annually, primarily sourced from residue or vegetable oils cultivated on marginal lands.

The announcement highlighted the potential for further growth through innovative technologies such as alcohol-to-jet and gasification methods, offering promising avenues for sustainable aviation fuel development.

On the global front, the IEA said over 80% of sustainable biofuel production and use is in the United States, Brazil, Europe, and Indonesia.

However, total transport fuel demand from these countries accounts for less than half of global transport fuel demand.

“Advanced biofuels must grow 11 times by 2030 from 2022 levels in the IEA’s Net Zero Scenario, doubling total biofuels production over the same period. However, planned investments to date remain well below this level of growth,” the study said.

“Over the next five years, biofuel demand is set to expand 38 billion liters, a near 30% increase from the last five-year period. In fact, total biofuel demand rises 23% to 200 billion liters by 2028, with renewable diesel and bio jet accounting for almost half of this growth with the remainder coming from ethanol and biodiesel,” it concluded. 


Javaid Naikoo is a senior correspondent at Press Insider. A seasoned and analytical journalist, Javaid covers economy and policy from New Delhi. He has reported on politics, business and social issues in the past, and also has a keen interest in photojournalism. His compelling words and art have appeared across domestic and global publications. More

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