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UPSC Sansad TV: Biofuels in India’s Energy security





Biofuels could have a significant impact in five key areas – lowering GHG emissions as they could result in up to 80% reduction in well-to-wheel emissions as compared to their fossil fuel counterparts; reducing import dependency and thereby boosting energy security; enabling circularity by employing waste for wealth creation and delivering wider socioeconomic benefits. In addition to their energy potential, they also offer downstream applications in the form of bio-based chemicals and polymers. Biofuels are especially critical in decarbonizing long-haul transport sectors such as aviation and maritime. Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) blends are already technically compatible with fuel delivery and airport fueling infrastructure.


  • Any hydrocarbon fuel that is produced from an organic matter (living or once living material) in a short period of time (days, weeks, or even months) is considered a biofuel. It may be solid, liquid or gaseous in nature.
  • Brazil, India, and the United States, as leading biofuel producers and consumers, will work together during the next few months towards the development of a Global Biofuels Alliance along with other interested countries.
  • This Alliance will be aimed at facilitating cooperation and intensifying the use of sustainable biofuels, including in the transportation sector.
  • It will place emphasis on strengthening markets, facilitating global biofuels trade, development of concrete policy lesson-sharing and provision of technical support for national biofuels programs worldwide.
  • It will also emphasize the already implemented best practices and success cases.
  • These can be used to replace or can be used in addition to diesel, petrol or other fossil fuels for transport, stationary, portable and other applications. Also, they can be used to generate heat and electricity.

Biofuels: Significance & reducing dependence on petroleum

  • Availability: Biofuels are produced from biomass and thus are renewable.
  • Source Material: Whereas oil is a limited resource that comes from specific materials, biofuels can be manufactured from a wide range of materials including crop waste, manure, and other byproducts.
  • Environment Pollution: Biofuels do not release as much carbon as fossil fuels do but fertilizers that are used in the growing biofuels lead to greenhouse emissions. Also, biofuels can help in managing municipal solid wastes i.e., the waste can be converted into fuel.
  • Security: Biofuels can be produced locally, which decreases the nation’s dependence upon foreign energy. By reducing dependence on foreign fuel sources, countries can protect the integrity of their energy resources and make them safe from outside influences.
  • Economic Stimulation: Because biofuels are produced locally, biofuel manufacturing plants can employ hundreds or thousands of workers, creating new jobs in rural areas.
  • Some of the main reasons for shifting to biofuels are the rising prices of oil, emission of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels and the interest in obtaining fuel from agricultural crops for the benefit of farmers.

Recent initiatives to promote biofuels in India

  • Initiatives by Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology:
    • The department successfully developed 2G Ethanol and transferred the technology to Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs).
    • Developed Indigenous Cellulolytic Enzyme for the production of biofuels.
    • Demonstrated micro algae based sewage treatment technology.
    • It has strengthened the international collaboration to accelerate innovation in Sustainable Biofuel through multilateral programs like Mission Innovation and Biofuture Platform.
    • It is training & encouraging young researchers in the field of Bioenergy through Fellowships/Awards.
  • Pradhan Mantri JI-VAN Yojana, 2019: The objective of the scheme is to create an ecosystem for setting up commercial projects and to boost Research and Development in 2G Ethanol sector.
  • Ethanol blending: The 2018 Biofuel Policy has the objective of reaching 20% ethanol-blending and 5% biodiesel-blending by the year 2030.
    • Recently, instead of 2030, the Centre plans to move ahead with its ethanol blending target of 20% of petrol containing ethanol by 2025-26.
    • It will promote the production of biofuels in the country, under the Make in India program, by units located in Special Economic Zones (SEZ)/ Export Oriented Units (EoUs).
  • GOBAR (Galvanizing Organic Bio-Agro Resources) DHAN scheme, 2018: It focuses on managing and converting cattle dung and solid waste in farms to useful compost, biogas and bio-CNG, thus keeping villages clean and increasing the income of rural households.
  • Repurpose Used Cooking Oil (RUCO): It was launched by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and aims for an ecosystem that will enable the collection and conversion of used cooking oil to biodiesel. 

Conclusion and way forward

  • Promotion of the use of biofuels in transportation in the countries like India will help in reducing the crude import bill.
  • Alternative feedstock like agricultural waste, recycled cooking oil, provides for more environmentally friendly bio-fuels.
  • There is a need to focus on raising the non-cane contribution to the ethanol mix.
  • This can be done by incentivising both public and private players to set up second-generation ethanol facilities.


SANSAD TV 24-2-24