Global Biofuels Alliance: What impact will it have on the petroleum products market in the country? Know about it

Global Biofuels Alliance: What impact will it have on the petroleum products market in the country? Know about it

On September 9, India made a big announcement during the G20 – the formation of a Global Biofuels Alliance (GBA). India, America, and Brazil will be its founding members. 19 other countries will also join in to support. Now before we go into why on earth we need such an alliance, we need to understand biofuels. We are mainly talking about ethanol and biodiesel.

These are called biofuels because they can be extracted from plant-based substances. Ethanol can be extracted from sugarcane. You can extract it from corn, rice, and various species of bamboo. Biodiesel, on the other hand, can be made from animal fat, vegetable oil, soybean oil, and even restaurant grease. Those that would normally be thrown away can be processed into something useful. Some enterprising people are also converting the oils secreted by algae into biodiesel.

There is a big discussion about biofuels in India these days. We want to reduce our dependence on importing barrels of oil at high prices from the Middle East and elsewhere. We are good oil refiners but not big producers, hence, we need an alternative to this black gold. We do not have vast reserves of oil to exploit easily.

By using ethanol and biodiesel we saved Rs 73 thousand crore in import items.
On the other hand, biofuel does not contain any petroleum substance. Over the last 9 years, India has saved Rs 73,000 crore in import charges by relying on domestically produced ethanol and biodiesel. We are mixing ethanol with petrol. When you go to the fuel pump to get oil, your car is getting a hybrid mixture of oil. On the other hand, we are also blending biodiesel with conventional diesel.

In such a situation, we can see how biofuels can change our destiny. By using this, precious dollars can be saved which we are wasting in the name of importing petrol and diesel. This can make the country self-reliant in meeting some energy needs. Ultimately it helps in making the country self-reliant.

No wonder we have a dedicated National Policy on Biofuels (2018). An amendment was also made to this policy in 2022. Things are going quite well at the moment. We had initially set a target of mixing 20 percent ethanol in petrol by 2030. But right now, the target has been revised to 2026. We are more confident. We have set a target of blending 5% biodiesel in conventional diesel by 2030.

Now one aspect is saving money by reducing imports. But the flip side is that biofuels do not contribute that much to pollution. See, 40% of the country's pollution is caused by vehicles. At least this is what Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari says. Whereas ethanol burns relatively cleanly and reduces carbon monoxide emissions.

Why is there a need for an alliance to move forward on biofuels?
all is well. But why do we need a Global Biofuels Alliance (GBA)? Why can't we do it alone? Is the alliance in this case like OPEC where petroleum-producing countries meet together and decide how much biofuel to supply or not? It is important to find the answer to this.

The point is that India has some big ambitions when it comes to biofuels. For example, to achieve the milestone we mentioned earlier, 17 billion liters of ethanol is required. We currently produce only 10 billion liters. Currently, we produce only 3% of the world's biofuel production. For this, there was a need for an alliance between such countries of the world, who want to achieve the same goals as ours. This is the reason why countries like India, America, and Brazil have come together for GBA.

GBA will help in accessing international funds for the development of biofuels
It should not be forgotten that we also have plans to set up 5,000 plants for biogas in the country. We need help to pump it. Having an alliance will help us. This will help us not only in improving technical know-how but also in accessing specific international funds established for this purpose.

As was the case with the International Solar Alliance (ISA) – a program jointly launched by India and France in 2015. This agreement signed by 114 countries facilitates financing for solar projects. There is also talk of creating an incubation center to guide and mentor solar startups. They also act as advisors on government policies. Some similar goals can be achieved in the case of GBA.

So if you're expecting biofuels to meet a global net zero emissions target by 2050, everyone needs to join hands. We need to make more people aware of using this alternative fuel to achieve the bigger goal. Will GBA help with this? We will have to keep an eye on this.

(PC: India today)