Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated India Energy Week (IEW) in Bengaluru on Monday along with launching 'E20' fuel with the aim of introducing cleaner energy in the country. This new fuel was launched at 84 retail outlets of oil marketing companies in 11 states and Union Territories and is part of India's 'roadmap' ethanol blending, launched in June 2021, a statement from the Prime Minister's Office said.
“We are also working very fast on Biofuel, and ethanol blending. In the last 9 years, we have increased ethanol blending in petrol from 1.5 percent to 10 percent. Now we are moving towards the target of 20 percent ethanol blending”, PM Modi said on Monday. Referring to the E-20 rollout, he said that the first phase of the rollout will cover 15 cities and within two years it will be expanded to the entire country.
IEW, which will be held between February 6 and 8, aims to highlight India's "rising prowess as an energy transition powerhouse".
What is the E20 fuel?
E20 refers to a fuel blend that contains 20% ethanol and 80% petrol. As ethanol burns cleaner than petrol, a mixture of the two reduces environmental pollution. The higher the number, the higher the proportion of ethanol in petrol.
Ethanol is produced either naturally when yeasts ferment sugars or through petrochemical processes like ethylene hydration. As an antiseptic and disinfectant, it has uses in medicine.
According to a report by NITI Aayog, currently, petrol with 10% ethanol blend (E10) is being used in India. The report also mentions that the Government aims to advance adoption of 20% blending in gasoline in the country by 2025. However, a typical petrol car cannot run on high ethanol blend fuel, such as E20 fuel, due to the different characteristics, as the engines must be modified. The step requires "emission norms for nationwide standardization and adoption".
The NITI Aayog report suggests that over and above the price of typical vehicles designed to run on 100% gasoline, the cost of E20 compatible vehicles is anticipated to be higher in the range of Rs 3000 to Rs 5000 for four-wheelers and Rs 1000 to Rs 2000 for two-wheelers.
What are the benefits of E20 fuel?
E20 fuel has been touted to help reduce emissions. It could lead to reductions in carbon monoxide emissions in motor vehicles — 50% lower in two-wheelers and 30% lower in four-wheelers, according to NITI Aayog. Compared to regular gasoline, ethanol blends showed a 20% reduction in hydrocarbon emissions. As it varies depending on the type of vehicle/engine and engine operating conditions, nitrous oxide emissions did not demonstrate a discernable trend, the report said.
According to the research, in 2020–21, India's net petroleum imports totaled 185 Mt at a cost of $551 Billion USD, much of which is used for transportation. The government body says that a successful E20 programme could help India save US $4 billion or Rs 30,000 crore every year.
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