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India pitching for enhanced development of Biofuels

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation


Source: PIB 

Direction: The article discusses biofuels, its classification and Indian efforts to promote biofuels and way ahead. 

Context: India, during its Presidency of G20, is emphasising on international collaboration for energy security and enhanced development of emerging fuels like biofuel and hydrogen.


  • Government notified the use of hydrogen as automotive fuel for fuel cell vehicles on 16th September, 2016.
  • Oil CPSEs are setting up 2G ethanol bio-refineries in the country at Panipat (Haryana), Bathinda (Punjab), Numaligarh (Assam), Bargarh (Odisha) and one demonstration project at Panipat. 

About Biofuels:

  • Biofuels are liquid or gaseous fuels primarily produced from biomass, and can be used to replace or can be used in addition to diesel, petrol or other fossil fuels for transport and other applications.
  • Crops used to make biofuels are generally either high in sugar (such as sugarcane, sugarbeet), starch (such as maize and tapioca) or oils (such as soybean, rapeseed, coconut, sunflower).


Categories of biofuels:


  • 1st-generation biofuels are made from sugar, starch, vegetable oil, or animal fats using conventional technology.
  • 2nd generation biofuels are produced from non-food crops, such as cellulosic biofuels and waste biomass (stalks of wheat and corn, and wood).
  • 3rd generation biofuels are produced from microorganisms like algae.



Indian efforts to promote Biofuels:

  • National Policy on Biofuels 2018: It aims to have country-wide blending rates of 20% ethanol and 5% biodiesel by 2030. It also focused on using 2G technologies with agricultural/industrial waste products.
    • However, through amendments to this policy, government now aims to achieve a blending target of 20% ethanol by 2025 rather than 2030.


  • Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) program: It aims to achieve ethanol blending in order to reduce pollution, conserve foreign exchange, and so on.
  • Pradhan Mantri JI-VAN (Jaiv Indhan – Vatavaran Anukool fasal awashesh Nivaran) Yojana: Launched in 2019 to create an ecosystem for commercial project development and R&D in the 2G Ethanol sector.
  • GOBAR (Galvanizing Organic Bio-Agro Resources) DHAN scheme: It focuses on managing and converting farm animal dung and solid waste into useful compost, biogas, and bio-CNG, thereby keeping villages clean and increasing rural household income.
  • Repurpose Used Cooking Oil (RUCO): It aims to create an ecosystem that allows for the collection and conversion of used cooking oil to biodiesel.


Way ahead:

  • The proposed expansions in 1G biofuel production need to think about broader land-use strategies, identifying land suitable for energy crops.
  • India needs to develop alternative feedstocks for biodiesel production.
  • Existing frameworks like the Clean Development Mechanism could be leveraged to directly fund R&D in the sector.


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Prelims Links: UPSC 2020

According to India’s National Policy on Biofuels, which of the following can be used as raw materials for the production of biofuels?

  1. Cassava
  2. Damaged wheat grains
  3. Groundnut seeds
  4. Horse gram
  5. Rotten potatoes
  6. Sugar beet

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1, 2, 5 and 6 only

(b) 1, 3, 4 and 6 only

(c) 2, 3, 4 and 5 only

(d) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6


Ans: (a)

  • The Policy expands the scope of raw material for ethanol production by allowing use of sugarcane juice, sugar containing materials like sugar beet, sweet sorghum, starch containing materials like corn, cassava, damaged food grains like wheat, broken rice, rotten potatoes, unfit for human consumption for ethanol production.