BIOFUELS PROGRAMME

  • World Biofuel Day is observed on 10th August every year.
  • It is observed to raise awareness of the importance of non-fossil fuels as a substitute for conventional fossil fuels.
  • Ministry of New and Renewable Energy in association with UNIDO (United Nations Development Industrial Organisation) and GEF (Global Environment Facility – a financial mechanism) launched two schemes on this occasion which are:
  • Interest Subvention Scheme.
  • GIS based inventory tool of organic waste streams.
  • Biofuels programme is also in synergy with Government of India’s initiative of Atmanirbhar Bharat
  • This day is observed in honour of Sir Rudolf Diesel. He was the inventor of the diesel engine and was the first to predict the possibility of vegetable oil replacing fossil fuels.
  • It is based on the promotion of biofuels for a better environment.
  • Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas since 2015.

Significance:

  • Any hydrocarbon fuel that is produced from an organic matter (living or once living material) in a short period of time (days, weeks, or even months) is considered a biofuel.
  • Examples of Biofuel include ethanol, biodiesel, green diesel and biogas.
  • Biofuels help in reducing the dependence on crude oil and fostering a cleaner environment.
  • It also generates additional income and employment for rural areas.
  • This will not only help meet India’s rural energy needs but also fulfill the rising demands for transportation.
  • The use of carbon fuels will reduce carbon emissions and meet the energy requirements of the 21st century.

Interest Subvention Scheme:

  • It provides financial assistance to innovative waste to energy biomethanation projects and business models.
  • The industrial organic waste-to-energy bio-methanation projects are generally capital intensive and financially sensitive to both operating costs, including waste availability, and revenue, particularly biogas yield and its utilization scenario.
  • Innovations in such projects seek to improve overall energy output thereby minimizing the cost of energy generation but may lead to increase in the initial project cost at the establishment stage yet increase revenue and reduce operating costs over project’s lifetime.
  • The loan scheme provides financial assistance to beneficiaries to reduce the financial burden on account of interest on the loan component faced by such demonstration projects.

Biomethanation

  • Biomethanation is a process by which organic material is microbiologically converted under anaerobic conditions to biogas.
  • Three main physiological groups of microorganisms are involved: fermenting bacteria, organic acid oxidizing bacteria, and methanogenic archaea.
  • Microorganisms degrade organic matter via cascades of biochemical conversions to methane and carbon dioxide.

Govt Initiatives to Promote Biofuels

  • Blending of biofuels: Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) programme, Administrative price mechanism for ethanol, Simplifying the procurement procedures by Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs), amending the provisions of Industries (Development & Regulation) Act, 1951 etc are some of the initiatives taken to promote blending of biofuels.
  • Researchers at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) are developing a method to use cyanobacterium for biofuel production
  • Recently, the Central government has also allowed the conversion of surplus rice to ethanol

Way Forward

  • Promotion of the use of biofuels in transportation in countries like India will help in reducing the crude import bill.
  • India being a large agricultural economy, there is a large amount of agricultural residues available, therefore the scope of producing Biofuels is immense in the country. Biofuels can help in rural and agricultural development in the form of new cash crops.

SOURCE: THE HINDU,THE ECONOMIC TIMES,MINT

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