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Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme

  • Context (IE | TH): After banning sugar exports, the Centre has taken the next step towards augmenting domestic availability, i.e., restricting the diversion of the sweetener for ethanol production.

What is Ethanol (C2H5OH)?

  • Ethanol is 99.9% pure alcohol.
  • It can be used as a biofuel.
  • It is naturally produced by the fermentation of sugars by yeasts.
  • It is also produced via petrochemical processes such as ethylene hydration.
  • It is mostly extracted from molasses (byproduct from refining sugarcane) and surplus food grains.

Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP)

  • EBP was launched in 2003 with a 5% blending of ethanol in petrol.
  • It has a target of 20% ethanol blending in petrol by 2025-26.

Objectives of EBP

  • Reducing import dependence
  • Savings in foreign exchange
  • Providing a boost to the domestic agriculture sector and associated environmental benefits

Advantages of using EBP

  • Energy security in the long run through fuel mix diversification.
  • Reduce the use of fossil fuels.
  • Reduce import dependence and self-sustainability in fuel production.
  • Doubling Farmers’ income by farm diversification (Ashok Dalwai Committee).
  • Optimum utilisation of surplus food grains and damaged vegetables.
  • Reduction in pollution as EBP is more efficient and clean than normal petrol.
  • Employment generation through the introduction of new technology and infrastructure.
  • Byproducts like potash can be used as fertilisers, and other wastes can be used as animal feed.

Demerits/Challenges

  • Uncertainty in the production of molasses and food grains, as agriculture in India, is mostly affected by the vagaries of nature.
  • Policy Challenges: For instance, the current ban on the production of ethanol using sugar cane.
  • Diversion of food grains: This can threaten food security.
  • Poor mileage of vehicles: Since the energy content of ethanol is as low as 35% when compared with petrol.
  • Constraints of infrastructure, advanced technology and skilled human resources.

Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme

  • The EBP programme was launched in 2003 with multiple objectives, including:
    • Reducing import dependence
    • Savings in foreign exchange
    • Providing a boost to the domestic agriculture sector
    • Associated environmental benefits.
  • Under EBP, India aims to blend 20% ethanol in petrol (E20) by 2025.

Way Forward

  • Gear up State-wide support to eliminate regional disparity in production.
  • Feedstock diversification: Food grains have a better yield capacity to produce ethanol than molasses.
  • Single Window Clearance to eliminate approval hurdles.
  • Upgradation of vehicles for ethanol compatibility and improved efficiency.
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