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Ethanol as an alternate fuel:

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.



Although the country has made steady progress in raising the share of ethanol in auto-fuels, having increased it to 8.1% in Ethanol Supply Year (ESY) 2020-21 (December-November) from 5% a year earlier, several issues will need to be addressed if the target of 20% blending by 2025 is to be achieved.


Significance of ethanol blending:

  • Since most petroleum products are used in transport, a successful E20 (20% ethanol blended petrol) programme can potentially save the country $4 billion per annum.
  • Use of E20 leads to an estimated loss of 6-7% in the fuel efficiency of four-wheelers originally designed for regular petrol.



Government has been promoting use of ethanol as a blend stock with main automotive fuel like petrol in line with the National Policy on Biofuels (NBP) -2018 under the Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme.

  • This policy envisages an indicative target of blending 20% ethanol in petrol by 2025.


Factors limiting the extent of ethanol blending:

Lack of adequate quality feedstock and sporadic availability of ethanol across the country — as feedstock supply is primarily concentrated in sugar-producing states at present.


Efforts by the Government in this regard:

  1. Government has allowed production of ethanol from sugarcane and food grain based raw-materials.
  2. The Government has fixed the ex-mill price of ethanol from sugarcane based raw-materials.
  3. Remunerative prices of ethanol produced from different feedstock has been fixed.
  4. The government has notified interest subvention schemes for setting up of molasses and grain based new distilleries or expansion of existing distilleries.



  • Ethanol can be produced from sugarcane, maize, wheat, etc which are having high starch content.
  • In India, ethanol is mainly produced from sugarcane molasses by fermentation process.
  • Ethanol can be mixed with gasoline to form different blends.
  • As the ethanol molecule contains oxygen, it allows the engine to more completely combust the fuel, resulting in fewer emissions and thereby reducing the occurrence of environmental pollution.
  • Since ethanol is produced from plants that harness the power of the sun, ethanol is also considered as renewable fuel.


Insta Curious:

To boost the programme, the government has reintroduced an administered price mechanism for ethanol procurement, allowing ethanol production from multiple feedstock like heavy molasses, sugarcane juice, sugar, sugar syrup, damaged foodgrains, maize and surplus rice stocks with the Food Corporation of India.

  • Sugar mills and distilleries are also free to set up ethanol plants after obtaining statutory clearances, with the government notifying an interest subvention scheme to assist companies.



Prelims Link:

  1. What is ethanol? How is it produced?
  2. Difference between ethanol and molasses?
  3. What is ethanol blending programme?
  4. Benefits of ethanol blending?

Mains Link:

Write a note on the 2013 EBP programme.

Sources: PIB.