New Delhi (Sputnik) — The Indian government on Wednesday approved a new policy expanding the scope of raw material for ethanol production by allowing the use of sugarcane juice, sugar-containing materials like sugar beet, sweet sorghum, starch-containing materials like corn, cassava, damaged food grains like wheat, broken rice, and rotten potatoes that are unfit for human consumption for ethanol production. The decision was taken in view of the farmers being at "risk of not receiving an appropriate price for their produce during the surplus production phase."
"The ethanol supply year 2017-18 is likely to see a supply of around 150 crore liters of ethanol which will result in savings of over $601 million of foreign exchange," the government notification read.
The government has categorized biofuels into two categories: "basic biofuels" and "advanced biofuels" with the allocation of approximately $750 million in six years to second generation advanced bio-refineries in addition to higher tax incentives, higher purchase price as compared to basic biofuels.
The Biofuel Policy 2018 encourages the setting up of supply chain mechanisms for biodiesel production from non-edible oilseeds, used cooking oil, short gestation crops, etc.
The government is also hoping to curb pollution as it says that one crore liter of ethanol blending saves around 20,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
"By reducing crop burning and conversion of agricultural residues/wastes to biofuels there will be a further reduction in Green House Gas emissions," the notification reads.
It is estimated that 62 million metric tons of solid waste (MSW) are generated in India annually. "There are technologies available which can convert waste/plastic, MSW to drop-in fuels. One ton of such waste has the potential to provide around 20% drop-in fuels" the government added.
The Indian government began promoting the use of biofuels in 2009 but it has gathered pace during the Narendra Modi government since 2014.