As India’s ambitious initiative to create a global biofuel alliance takes shape, researchers have identified a major opportunity – utilizing surplus crops such as sunflower seeds, palm fruit, Jatropha seeds, rapeseed, and soybean to generate biofuel.
This breakthrough could transform these crops into vital energy sources, M.K Mohanty, a professor at the Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology, said.
Each year, India produces nearly 500 million tonnes (mt) of biomass, finding itself with a surplus of 120 to 150 million tonnes.
The benefits of biofuels extend beyond energy security to include a cleaner environment, better solid waste management, health improvements, analysts said.
India started its biofuel journey in 2001 with a modest 5% ethanol blending program. This involved mixing ethanol, a type of biofuel produced from biomass, with petrol. The goal was to blend 20% biodiesel in diesel by 2011-12. The updated biofuel policy now targets 20% ethanol in petrol and 5% biodiesel in diesel by 2030.
Biofuels have the potential to enable India to reduce crude oil imports, increase farmers’ income, create jobs, efficiently use drylands, and contribute to sustainability, Mohanty said.
Initiatives like the Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT) are evidence of India’s commitment to green energy. SATAT’s mission is simple: establish facilities to produce compressed biogas, a form of biofuel, and encourage its use across the country as a greener fuel option.
These developments come just in time for the coming launch of India’s Global Biofuel Alliance, which seeks to reshape global energy architecture.
Expected to attract participation from G20 member countries, the alliance will aim to expand biofuel adoption, create new fuels, and set international standards.
Simultaneously, India is making strides in green hydrogen production, with the Solar and Energy Corporation of India (SECI) recently issuing tenders for a facility capable of producing 450,000 tonnes of green hydrogen.
These advances coincide with oil cartel OPEC+’s decision to extend output cuts into next year, as the world grapples with fluctuating oil prices and potential supply glut.
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