In a first, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have evinced interest in importing ethanol produced in India for mixing the commodity with petrol and diesel, a development which can help Indian farmers tap international markets.

Speaking at the launch of the world’s first BS-VI (Stage II) electrified flex-fuel vehicle prototype from Toyota Kirloskar Motor, Road and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said the ethanol economy has the potential to transform the economy of India’s rural areas and hinterlands.

“I got the chance to meet the Bangladesh Prime Minister. We sell petrol and diesel to Bangladesh via pipeline from Numaligarh. We also talked about ethanol. During the discussions, Sri Lanka’s Minister and Bangladesh Prime Minister asked me whether we can export ethanol to these countries,” Gadkari said.

Ethanol export

Commending the work done by Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) in biofuels, the Minister said that such instances will help expand the ethanol economy in the country. Ethanol has immense potential to uplift the rural and agricultural economy of the country.

IOC at the Numaligarh refinery in Assam is making ethanol from bamboo. It’s capital cost isomer, but it’s commendable that the oil marketing company (OMC) is taking such initiatives. These initiatives can help revive the economy in the hinterlands of India.

Gadkari suggested to Oil Minister HS Puri and IOC Chairman SM Vaidya, who were present at the launch event, to mix ethanol with petrol and diesel and sell it to Bangladesh via pipelines from Numaligarh.

“This will provide better prices for the commodities, reduce pollution in Bangladesh and create an international market for Indian firms for ethanol,” he pointed out.

Flex Fuel vehicle

Gadkari said he has been working since 2004 for flex-fuel vehicles and Tuesday’s launch by Toyota Kirloskar Motor is a culmination of efforts launched almost two decades back.

Talking about India’s work on bio-fuels, Oil Minister Puri pointed out that in 2014, India was blending ethanol only to the extent of 1.53 per cent. With huge efforts made by the government and industry, in a short span of 8 years, have increased by over 8 times to reach the blending of around 11.5 per cent (March 2023).

This has helped us not only to make big savings in the import bills but also has contributed to lowering of carbon emissions. We have advanced the target for E20 blending to 2025 (5 years ahead of the earlier planned schedule), from the original plan of 2030, he added.

“E20 fuel is being dispensed at more than 3,300 fuel stations across the country and shall be available pan India by April 2025. With E20 implementation by April 2025, expected import bill savings may be around ₹35,000 crore annually, oil import displacement will be 63 million barrels of gasoline (in ethanol production year 2024-25),” Puri said.

This will further contribute to reducing GHG Emission by 21 million metric tonnes and PM 2.5 emissions up to 14 per cent than gasoline. We are confident that by such time, we will not only have E20 but beyond, the Oil Minister added.

Puri noted that India has huge ethanol potential and can utilise excess ethanol by promoting flex-fuel vehicle (FFVs) and flex-fuel strong hybrid electric vehicle (FFV-SHEV) / electrified flex-fuel vehicle.

Heavy Industries Minister Mahendra Nath Pandey said the launch, which is the first of its kind globally, will be the precursor to more such inventions.

“Ethanol is an indigenous eco-friendly fuel, which will not only bring down emissions, but will also help increase the income of the farmers,” he added.