New biofuel policy approved recently
National Biofuel Policy 2018 approved by the government has the potential to bring in multicrore private investment in second generation ethanol production. Second generation ethanol refers to alcohol generated from uncon- ventional raw material such as agro waste.
As an indication of the potential, the government hopes to bring in 20 percent ethanol-blended automobile fuel by 2020. At the targeted 5 percent blending now, about 50 plants of one crore litre a day will be needed. This will involve investment of over ` 35,000 crore.
In India, traditionally, ethanol is produced by distilleries linked to sugar mills. They use molasses generated as a byproduct of sugar production as a raw material. A major benefit of using agro waste for eth- anol production is that it will address the problem of air pollution caused by burning of agriculture waste. The dozen units planned by Oil Marketing Company’s (OMC) alone will use about 18-20 lakh tonnes of agro waste annually.
Praj Industries, which has developed technology in-house, is executing two projects, one in Odisha for BPCL and another at Panipat for IOC. These will use rice straw as raw material. Discussions are on with HPCL, for a unit in Uttar Pradesh.