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December 6, 2019
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Future of Alternative Fuels in India

As the world is shifting towards eco-friendly fuel alternatives, the Government of India is also doing its part by framing environmental friendly policies & regulations and encouraging electric vehicles (EVs) in the country.

While the shift towards EVs is a welcome step by the Government, it is not enough to meet the ever-growing energy demands of the country, which is expected to double by the year 2040. India is expected to receive almost $25 billion worth of investment in the expansion of its gas infrastructure.

In addition to this, India is expanding its domestic refining capacity from 249mmtp to 450mmtp by 2035. While EVs would bear some burden in meeting these demands, the dependence on conventional fossil fuel sources would be significant, in ensuring pleasant growth of all sectors.
In recent years ethanol has arisen as one of the most important alternative resource for liquid fuel and has also fuelled a lot of research in ethanol fermentation. Research on improving ethanol production has been fast-tracking for both ecological and economic reasons, for its use as a substitute to petroleum-based fuels.

According to various researchers, production of ethanol from renewable resources may improve energy availability, decrease air pollution and diminish atmospheric CO2 accumulation. The goal is to bring light on agricultural, industrial and urban waste, which could be used for ethanol production in an eco-friendly and lucrative manner.
Primarily, ethanol production will reduce dependency on foreign oil and will eliminate dumping problem of wastes and make environment safe from contamination.

Ethanol might be a new concept in India, but it has been driving automobiles for nearly a decade in countries like Brazil, US and several European nations.

The advantage of using ethanol over gasoline is that there is absolutely no particulate matter that is released into the atmosphere. The only gases that are emitted are carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, water (yes H2O) and formaldehydes. In the US, the exhaust gases are oxygenated on their way out to reduce carbon monoxide emissions.

Automobile industry body SIAM has proposed making petrol-powered two-wheelers and passenger vehicles material compatible with 10 per cent ethanol (E10) and 3 per cent methanol(M3) blends by 2025.

In a white paper on ‘Alternative Fuels for Vehicles’ released recently, SIAM also said that by 2030, the auto industry could make specific vehicles compatible with 20 per cent ethanol (E20)-blended gasoline depending upon sustained availability of fuels with separately labelled dispensing at fuel stations.

According to SIAM, “For gasoline-powered two-wheelers and passenger vehicles, industry will endeavour to make vehicles material compatible with 10 per cent ethanol (E10) and 3 per cent methanol (M3) blends by 2025.” Further, it said, “By 2030, industry could make specific vehicles compatible with 20 per cent ethanol (E20)-blended gasoline depending upon sustained availability of the fuels with separately labelled dispensing at fuel stations.”

While electrification of vehicles will be a major help towards providing energy security and improving environment, India needs to work on other efforts considering the ultimate objective of improving the country’s energy security.

The Government in order to address the concerns of worsening air pollution has decided to move directly from BS-IV to BS-VI pollution norms w.e.f. April 1, 2020. With the introduction of BS-VI norms it aims to reduce the particulate matter and NOx emissions, the introduction of 2G Ethanol, Bio-Diesel, Bio-CNG, and LNG as cleaner alternative options.

Taking government’s initiative forward, Chennai-based TVS Motor Company has recently launched India’s first ethanol-powered motorcycle TVS Apache RTR 200 Fi E100. This ethanol edition is available in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh.

This can be the starting for two-wheeler industry where more and more companies and start-ups will be looking to provide green and sustainable mobility solutions across electric, hybrid and alternate fuels with the help of government intervention.



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