Why is it in the news?
- Biofuels face challenges despite the growing adoption of electric vehicles (EVs).
- Transition to EVs requires replacing existing internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles and infrastructure, which is a capital-intensive process.
Challenges in India
- In India, biofuels primarily refer to first-generation (1G) ethanol, sourced from food crops.
- The policy aims to achieve 20% ethanol blending with petrol (E20) by 2025-26, relying on 1G ethanol from sugarcane and foodgrains.
- Second-generation (2G) ethanol, made from crop waste, faces challenges related to feedstock supply and scaling up.
- Groundwater depletion and food security concerns arise from diverting surplus produce towards energy production.
- Agriculture is a significant source of direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, making it counterproductive to increase emissions for fuel production.
Promoting Sustainable Biofuels
- Sustainable biofuels are produced from crop residues and waste with low water and GHG footprints.
- The Global Biofuels Alliance aims to promote sustainable biofuels and support India’s climate action.
- To achieve global net-zero emissions by 2050, sustainable biofuel production must triple by 2030.
- Decentralized 2G ethanol production is a potential sustainable solution but presents challenges in balancing economies of scale with biomass collection and transport.
- Biomass should be prioritized for sectors with limited low-carbon alternatives like long-haul aviation and road freight.
- The Global Biofuels Alliance can drive innovation in efficient biomass supply chains and smaller-scale decentralized biofuel production.
- Any hydrocarbon fuels produced from organic matter in a short period of time is a biofuel.
- Types: Solid (e.g., wood, dried plants, manure), Liquid (e.g., bioethanol, biodiesel), Gaseous (e.g., biogas)
- Used as alternatives or supplements to diesel, petrol, and other fossil fuels.
- Utilized in transportation, stationary, portable applications, heat, and electricity generation.
- Motivated by rising oil prices, greenhouse gas emissions, and agricultural crop-based fuel production.
Different Categories of Biofuels
First Generation Biofuels:
- Made from food sources (sugar, starch, vegetable oil, animal fats).
- Examples: Bio-alcohols, Bio-diesel, Vegetable oil, Bio-ethers, Biogas.
- Easy conversion but competes with food production, causing price increases.
Second Generation Biofuels:
- Produced from non-food crops or inedible portions of food crops (e.g., stems, husks, wood chips).
- Examples: Cellulose ethanol, Biodiesel.
- Complex production processes, lower impact on food economy, lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Third Generation Biofuels:
- Derived from micro-organisms like algae.
- Example: Butanol.
- Grown on land and water unsuitable for food production, reducing water strain.
- Fertilizer use may lead to environmental pollution.
Fourth Generation Biofuels:
- Crops genetically engineered to absorb high carbon levels.
- Grown, harvested, and converted into fuel using second-generation techniques.
- Carbon capture and geo-sequestration used (carbon storage in depleted oil/gas fields or coal seams).
- Considered carbon-negative as they remove carbon from the environment.
|Global Biofuel Alliance|
· India-led initiative.
· Aims to develop an alliance involving Governments, International organizations, and Industry to promote biofuel adoption.
· Comprises 19 countries and 12 international organizations.
· Founding members: India, Brazil, and the US.
· Focuses on enhancing the use of sustainable biofuels, particularly in the transportation sector.
· India, the US, and Brazil collectively account for 85 percent of global ethanol production.
· US holds the largest share at 55 percent, followed by Brazil at 27 percent, and India at 3 percent.