Government officials have been pushing for the use of ethanol in transport, and as a major step in that direction, announced that more fuel will soon be available throughout the country. A nationwide network of ethanol pumps will be established within six months. As Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari said at the recent SIAM Annual Convention, “it is our responsibility to ensure that ethanol is available”. According to him, the Petroleum Ministry has ordered: “public sector petroleum companies to install ethanol pumps for flex-fuel engines in areas where ethanol is available.”
Indian automakers have been encouraged to introduce flex-fuel engines to their line-ups to promote the use of ethanol as a lighter, cleaner alternative to conventional fuels. During the 2021 India Car Awards, Transport Minister Bahadur Shah had said, “I would like to call on the entire automobile industry to cooperate with me in bringing flex engines to India, just as they are in countries like the USA, Brazil, and Canada.”
Earlier this month, Gadkari further called on automakers to deploy the technology over the next year, and at the last SIAM convention, he reiterated his commitment to do so. As part of our commitment to deliver vehicles with flex engines, users will be able to choose whether they want to drive on 100 percent ethanol (E100) or 100 percent gasoline.”
In addition to attending the SIAM event, Tarun Kapoor, Secretary of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Government of India, addressed the issue of ethanol’s commercial availability, saying that the fuel has already been made available at three retail outlets and will be expanded. Nevertheless, it would be interesting to see some two-wheelers or other vehicles that run on E100 so that we could, at least as an experiment, use them on the road.”
India currently does not have any two-wheelers or passenger four-wheelers equipped with flex-fuel engines. The absence of a reliable distribution network for ethanol has been cited by automakers as one of the main reasons for not actively pursuing the technology. So, the government will resolve this complaint with its upcoming move.
India’s Fuel Roadmap
India initially aimed to produce petrol blended with 20 percent ethanol, or E20, by 2030. Previously, it was reported that the timeline first moved to 2025, then to 2023. Nitin Gadkari said these foods, such as rice, corn, wheat, and maize, which are surplus in the country, can now be used for ethanol production. It would be great if the industry rolled out E20 compatible vehicles quickly.
The Petroleum Secretary, Tarun Kapoor, revealed that the government is looking at using ethanol-blended petrol up to 20 percent in the future. As soon as we reach E20, then we can use both E20 and E100 in vehicles with flexible fuel systems. It is then up to the owners to decide which percentage they want to pay. Here is the roadmap as it pertains to petrol.
Even though the government is planning to use alternative fuels in the future, automakers may not be able to keep up. By 2023, the industry is working on RDE requirements and CAFE 2 emission standards, which will both be implemented within a strict timeline. Further complications could be incurred if E20 and flex-fuel engines were both switched on simultaneously the same year. To better prepare for pending regulations, the auto sector has requested that the government develop a long-term roadmap on emissions.
India will soon have 100 percent E10 coverage
The doping levels in petrol in India have reached around 10 percent (E10) since farmers started adding 5 percent ethanol to petrol. The number of E10 fuel sold in the country now exceeds 80 percent. In most countries, no E10 fuel is provided except for a few areas in the Northeast, Kerala, West Bengal, and some parts of Jammu and Kashmir. According to the official, “From next year onwards, it will be over the entire country, including the Northeast.”
According to the government, the introduction of E10 will be followed by the introduction of E20, and then, eventually, flex-fuel vehicles will be able to run on E100. Besides minimizing tailpipe emissions and being locally sourced, ethanol is gaining in popularity due to its low tailpipe emissions and low tailpipe emissions.
In India, crude oil imports are worth Rs 8 lakh crore (annually) and if that number doubles in the next four-five years, it will have a drastic impact on the economy as well as atmospheric pollution as well. So, the Ministry of Transportation is encouraging the adoption of more eco-friendly alternative fuels. Additionally, he requested that vehicle manufacturers discourage diesel engine sales. Environmental and health risks are extremely high from diesel-based pollution.”
Availability of ethanol will be crucial for bringing in flex-fuel vehicles capable of running on 100 percent ethanol as well as pure petrol.