Oil marketing companies (OMCs) received 233 crore litres of ethanol as of April 30 out of 514 crore litres contracted for the ethanol supply year (ESY) 2022-23, helping them to increase the blending to 11.65 per cent against 10 per cent during the same period a year ago. The target for ethanol blending with petrol is 12 per cent in the current ESY.

“As the sugar crushing has almost come to an end, except in Tamil Nadu, distilleries will now produce ethanol out of molasses, already stored for the off-season. The window of producing ethanol out of sugarcane juice is over now,” an industry official said, adding this is an achievement amid a fall in sugar production. The OMCs are said to have contracted to buy 374 crore litres from sugar-based distilleries and 140 crore litres from grain-based plants.

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It is estimated that one tonne of sugarcane yields about 70-75 litres of ethanol if directly processed from juice whereas one tonne of B-Heavy Molasses produces about 320 litres of the bio-fuel. According to industry sources, sugar mills have contracted to supply 138 crore litres of ethanol made out of sugarcane juice and 230 crore litres from B-heavy molasses.

The government has changed the ethanol year from November to October for the 2023-24 season from December to November till now. As a transition for the current year, it will run for 11 months from December to October and the 12 per cent blending has to be achieved by October 31.

Sugar output down 7%

Meanwhile, sugar production in the country was 7 per cent down at 317.91 lakh tonnes (lt) as of April 30 in the current sugar season (October 2022-September 2023) from 341.63 lt year-ago, mainly due to some 27 lt fall reported from Maharashtra, according to Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) data. The industry body of private sugar mills last month lowered its estimated sugar diversion towards ethanol to 40 lt from earlier estimate of 45 lt for the entire season.

Uttar Pradesh has reported sugar production of 101.82 lt against 98.98 lt a year ago, while Maharashtra’s output dropped to 105.27 lt from 132.06 lt and that of Karnataka to 55 lt from 58.12 lt. Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, too, have reported decline in output to 15.3 lt from 17.8 lt.

On the other hand, Tamil Nadu’s production is up at 10.90 lt from 8.38 lt, Bihar 6.30 lt from 4.57 lt, Punjab 6.65 lt from 5.96 lt and Haryana 7.12 lt from 6.77 lt. Total number of mills operational as on April 30 was 73 against 216 factories a year ago, ISMA data show.

However, the National Federation of Co-operative Sugar Factories (NFCSF) has estimated current year’s actual production at 320.30 lt between October 1, 2022 and April 30, 2023 down from 343.20 lt. The cooperative sector sugar industry body has said the production in UP, so far was 101.9 lt at 9.65 per cent recovery rate (sugar made from sugarcane), Maharashtra 105.3 lt at 10 per cent, Karnataka 55.5 lt at 10.10 per cent.

The all-India recovery rate so far was 9.87 per cent against 10.07 per cent year-ago, whereas the government-fixed fair and remunerative price (FRP) of sugarcane is based on 10.25 per cent recovery rate. According to NFCSF data, as much as 3,244.33 lt sugarcane has been crushed until April 30, as against 3,409.62 lt year-ago.