Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari has asked sugar companies to set up ethanol dispensing stations across the country to ensure timely availability of the fuel as he presses the accelerator on mandating flex fuel engines for automobiles.
Gadkari also said his ministry will file an affidavit to the Supreme Court seeking a relaxation in emission norms as vehicles with higher quantity of ethanol blend with petrol will not be able to comply with the current BS VI norms.
“Why doesnt the sugar industry start setting up ethanol dispensing stations? That will help the blending programme in the country,” he said in a webinar organised by Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) on Tuesday. “The problem is flex engines using a mix of ethanol and petrol of upto 100 percent, are not compliant with BS VI emission norms. But as compared to BS VI petrol engine norms having 20 percent ethanol, the flex engine where we are using 100 percent ethanol in BS IV, the (resulting) pollution is very negligible. So I will file an affidavit before the SC to seek permission for BS IV norms for the flex petrol engine.”
Companies should be ready with the capacity because we have to reduce not only the pollution but also our oil importsNitin Gadkari , Minister of Road Transport and Highways
Blending ethanol with petrol is a prevalent practice in Brazil as also parts of the US and for India which imports over 85 percent of its crude requirement, it is an effective way of reducing its import bill. At the same time, it also addresses the problem of excess production of sugar in the country. Already, procurement of ethanol by oil companies for blending has grown from just 38 crore litres in FY14 to an estimated 173 crore litres in FY20. The blending rate has increased from 1.53 per cent to over 5 per cent. Ethanol production capacity in the country has shot up to over 400 crore litres.The government recently advanced the timeline for achieving 20 per cent blending from 2030 to 2025 and the aim of achieving 10 per cent blending is likely to be accomplished by April 2022. Following this, phased rollout of E20 fuel will begin from April 2023 when all new vehicles from then are mandated to be compliant with it. Standards for E12 and E15 fuels have also been set. They are all likely to be rolled out in the next 2-3 years. By 2025, India is expected to have a fleet of vehicles that are E12-20 compliant. By then the demand for ethanol in the country is likely to top 10 billion litres per annum, a three fold increase over the demand right now.
On top of this, Gadlkari has repeatedly asked the automobile industry to start producing flex engines that are capable of taking even higher quantity of blend of upto 100 percent. Last month, he had said the government will issue an order mandating manufacture of vehicles with flex fuel engines in the next 3-4 months.
“The sugar industry should not worry about demand. That is my responsibility,” he said on Tuesday. “Whatever you produce, will be consumed in the country. Companies should be ready with the capacity because we have to reduce not only the pollution but also our oil imports. It also helps you as it takes care of the problem of excess sugar production in the country.”