PM Narendra Modi has raised his bet on ethanol in India’s fight against climate change by advancing the date for 20% blending of petrol by five years to 2025 and launching a pilot project at three Pune petrol pumps for running vehicles fully on the ‘swadeshi’ fuel.
“The country is fast moving towards clean energy and we will see a great benefit from this (rapid ethanol blending), especially in the agriculture sector,” he said addressing a function to mark World Environment Day.
The PM unveiled a roadmap prepared jointly by the oil ministry and government think-tank Niti Ayog for developing an ethanol economy. The roadmap reckons 20% blending of petrol with ethanol will result in an annual saving of $5 billion, or Rs 30,000 crore, in India’s oil import bill. India’s net petroleum import bill stood at $551 billion in 2020-21.
Ethanol is ethyl alcohol – also referred as ‘drinking alcohol’–made from molasses, grains and farm waste. The pandemic has made ethanol a part of our everyday life as one of the alcohol options for hand sanitisers. It is less polluting, and offers efficiency at a lower cost than petrol by raising the octane level. In 2014, the country had 1.5% ethanol blending, which has now gone up to 8.5%.