India takes action to increase use, production of ethanol

By Erin Voegele | January 19, 2021

India is taking action to increase domestic production and use of ethanol. The government in December opened a comment period on draft automotive industry standards (AIS) related to the country’s plans to introduce E85 and E100 vehicles into regions with an ethanol surplus. Also in December, the government of India approved an interest subsidy of $626 million for augmenting its domestic ethanol production capacities.

The draft AIS published by the India Ministry of Road Transport and Highways contain procedural and safety requirements for ethanol, flex-fuel and ethanol-gasoline blend vehicles, according to a report filed with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s Global Agricultural Information Network on Dec. 27. The draft standards complement the country’s 2018 National Biofuels Policy, which aims to move to a E20 blend by 2030. The country currently has an average blend rate of 5.2 percent and is targeting E10 by 2022. The GAIN report indicates that the government of India has proposed to advance its plans for a E20 mandate by 2025 in an effort to reduce pollution and reduce carbon dioxide and hydrocarbon emissions. The AIS shows the government’s intent to introduce vehicles fueled by E85 and E100 in areas with an ethanol surplus as way to meet that goal.

According to the report, the draft AIS aims to enhance vehicle safety by specifying safety requirements for hazards such as fire, corrosion, exposure to fumes, etc. Public comments on the draft AIS can be filed through Jan. 21.

A separate GAIN report filed with the USDA on Jan. 7 shows India is also working to increase availability of domestically produced ethanol. The notes the government of India’s Union Cabinet on Dec. 30 approved an interest subsidy of $626 million for augmenting domestic ethanol production capacities.

According to the report, the government realizes that existing ethanol capacity is insufficient to accommodate surplus sugar as a feedstock for ethanol. As a result, the government is reemphasizing ethanol production using alternative viable feedstocks, such as rice, wheat, barley, corn and sorghum, along with sugarcane and sugar beet to achieve blend mandates. “The government also continues to encourage 1-G ethanol production and promoting fuel-grade ethanol as an indigenous, non-polluting fuel that could possibly help savings on India’s oil import bill and sugarcane subsidies,” according to the report. The program will help the country establish new ethanol plants and expand capacity at existing facilities.