Union Cabinet okays 20% ethanol blending in petrol from April next year

Centre amends National Policy on Biofuel 2018, advances extra blending target by 5 years

Ethanol blending

New Delhi: Come April next year and petrol will be sold in retail with 20% mix of ethanol throughout the country. Currently, petrol pumps are offering petrol blended with 10% ethanol, apart from premium quality of petrol  that contains higher value of octane—a chemical component that determine efficiency of the vehicles.

The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has approved the amendments to the National Policy on Biofuels, 2018, to facilitate blending of higher quantity ethanol in petrol. The policy was approved by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas in 2018 to allow blending of biofuel in the organic fuel to cut down its imports.

An official of the Cabinet Ministry said that the amendments were necessitated due to advancements in the field of biofuels and in consonance with the decisions of the National Biofuel Coordination Committee (NBCC) to increase biofuel production.

The Standing Committee had also recommended advancement to introduce ethanol blended petrol with up to 20% ethanol throughout the country as per the National Policy on Biofuels.

The previous policy envisaged 20% blending of petrol with ethanol from Ethanol Supply Year (ESY) 2030. However, the amended policy had advanced the extra blending of ethanol from the ESY 2025-26, which is five year ahead of the earlier schedule. Officials said that the policy change was effected to allow more feedstocks for production of biofuels.

The changes in policy would also encourage production of biofuels in the country, under the Make in India program, by units located in Special Economic Zones (SEZ)/ Export Oriented Units (EoUs), and add new members to the NBCC. It would also pave the way for granting of permission for export of biofuels in specific cases.

This proposal will also attract and foster developments of indigenous technologies, which will pave the way for Make in India drive and thereby generate more employment.

An official of the Petroleum Ministry said that the existing National Policy on Biofuels was notified in the year 2018. This amendment will help the country reduce import of petroleum products and generation of more and more biofuels. Since many more feedstocks are being allowed for production of biofuels, this will promote the Atmanirbhar Bharat and give an impetus to Prime Minister’s vision of India becoming ‘energy independent’ by 2047.

The official said that petrol with 10% mix of ethanol would be available at the retail outlets during the transitional period, as vehicles configured for higher proportion of ethanol would be lesser in the number on road. The vehicle makers have already been asked to modify the engine suitably to accept higher volume of ethanol blended petrol.

The policy, however, is not clear whether the higher octane petrol, popularly known as premium petrol, would continue to be available at the petrol pumps. Premium petrol (containing 91 octane value) comes Rs 4-5 per liter costlier than 10% ethanol blended petrol (87 octane), but automobile engineers say that efficiency and performance of high value octane petrol is much higher as compared to normal petrol.

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