The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) conducted an International Conference on ‘Biofuels – A Pathway towards Sustainable Future’, at Hotel Taj Palace, New Delhi. The Conference was organized as a part of year-round activities to promote ethanol. The program witnessed participation from automotive industry experts, government officials, academia, and other stakeholder associations including the ambassador and experts from Brazil.
The Government of India has mandated SIAM for taking promotional measures for ethanol in the country jointly with the Ministry of Heavy Industries (MHI) as a Transportation Fuel. India’s Ethanol Blending Programme is being driven by the highest level of the Government. The important deadlines decided for pan India implementation of E-20 are 2023 for vehicles to be material compliant, and 2025 for vehicles to be fully E-20 compliant. In this conference on Biofuels, delegates shared knowledge best practices, experiences and disseminate learnings on biofuels, especially ethanol. In addition, issues related to emissions, GHGs, and decarbonization in the automotive sector were also discussed. The conference provided a glimpse of policies, and regulatory and legislative frameworks for biofuels and their usage to foster sustainable mobility.
The Conference was divided into three sessions, with a Minister Plenary Session on ‘A giant leap for biofuels – Ethanol blending & SATAT Scheme’. This was followed by the Inaugural Session on ‘Improving the urban air quality– Environmental Benefits of Biofuels’, and a Panel discussion session focusing on ‘Trends in Biofuel Production – Maturing into a Biofuel Economy’.
The Minister Plenary session began after a welcome address by, Mr. Vinod Aggarwal, President, SIAM, CEO & MD, Volvo Eicher Commercial Vehicles, in which he said, “Through SIAM, I am happy to note that the Indian Automotive Industry is working closely with the government as we transition to sustainable transportation through implementation of stringent emission standards and increased emphasis on alternate fuels. Biofuels like ethanol offer a Pathway towards a sustainable future which includes clean air and less dependence on imported oil, thereby supporting a more Aatmanirbhar Bharat. I am grateful to Hon’ble Minister Shri Hardeep Singh Puri, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, and leaders from automotive industry, experts, government officials, academia, and other stakeholder associations including the ambassador and experts from Brazil for sharing their knowledge, best practices and experiences.”
Chief Guest, Hon’ble Minister Shri Hardeep Singh Puri, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, said, “It is essential to explore and promote alternative energy resources to reduce dependence on the import of fossil fuels. Taking into account Amrit kaal: Vision 2047 goals, where we intend to grow our 3 trillion dollar economy to 32 trillion dollars, and therefore, our energy requirements are bound to rise to account for lifestyle, trade, and manufacturing development. Additionally, environmental conservation is also critical to our developmental journey. Under the SATAT scheme, many entrepreneurs have established CBG plants to produce and supply CBG to Oil Marketing Companies. With the assistance of OMCs and other enthusiastic players, 37 CBG plants have been commissioned, and approximately 9000 tonnes of Compressed Biogas have already been sold. In order to make decarbonized mobility a reality, Indian automakers must stay on the path of sustainability.”
The Guest of Honour, His Excellency André Aranha Corrêa Do Lago, Ambassador of Brazil to India, mentioned about the strong partnership that India has built with Brazil on the journey to ethanol adoption. He emphasized the parallels between the two countries and focused on the benefits that would accrue to India because of usage of higher blends of ethanol. He reiterated his support for SIAM’s initiatives in the direction of sustainable low-carbon mobility.
Mr. Atsushi Ogata, President, CEO & MD, Honda Motorcycles & Scooters India, said, “Due to the advance information dissemination of all competitors in the market, customer in India is extremely aware about the performance requirements and environmental footprints of the products available to them. Customers in India will need a very strong assurance from product performance side and incentives from policy side for ethanol adoption in the complete vehicle parc.”
In the inaugural session, the chief guest, Hon’ble Shri Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State, MoEF&CC, said, “Today’s conference, with a focus on biomass-based ethanol production and blending in the transport sector, is a step towards “Aatmanirbharta”. Sustainable mobility is critical for an overall low-carbon economy, including sectorial decarbonization strategies and measures with the perspective of the Indian automotive industry. The government’s SATAT scheme envisages the use of low-carbon biofuels and Compressed Biogas production from farm waste/residue. Ethanol blending is becoming important for meeting GHG emission targets. The government of India is committed to attaining a non-fossil energy capacity of 500 GW by 2030 and further reducing its projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes by 2030. A successful ethanol programme can save India, foreign exchange to the tune of Rs. 30,000 cr. per annum.”
Setting the context, Mr. Pankaj Jain, Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, said, “With the efforts made by Government and energy industry stakeholders, the existing installed capacity of molasses-based distilleries has reached 426 cr. litres and likely to reach 1200 cr. litres for the effective target of 20% blending in gasoline. Like the plant inaugurated in Panipat in August 2022, multiple new second generation ethanol production plants will be installed across the nation.”
Mr. Vikram Kasbekar, Executive Director, Hero Moto Corp Limited, gave a topical presentation on the different ways in which Indian automobile sector is gearing up for the incumbent changes due to biofuel adoption. Additionally, he focused on the customer experience in the ecosystem of multiple fuels and decarbonized mobility. Presenting his views, Dr. S S V Ramakumar, Director – R&D, IOCL, laid down the contributions and responsibilities of Oil Marketing Companies in adoption of low carbon fuels. He also emphasised the information dissemination required for realization of benefits for the farmers in biofuel economy. The session also witnessed participation from Mr. C V Raman, Chairman SIAM ENC, CTO, Maruti Suzuki India Limited, and Dr. Plinio Nastari, President, Datagro, Brazil.
The post-lunch session on ‘Trends in Biofuel Production – Maturing into a Biofuel Economy’ witnessed a series of presentations. Mr. Shantanu Gupta, Executive Director, Indian Oil Corporation Limited, presented his views on “Compressed Biogas (CBG) – The Future of Green Energy”. Taking forward, Mr. Evandro Gussi, President, UNICA, Brazil, gave his take on “Biofuel blending for Green Road Transportation: Learnings from Brazil”, and Mr. Atul Mulay, President (Bio Energy), Praj Industries, presented on “Bio Mobility”.
The session also witnessed a panel discussion with notable joint secretaries from ministries, expert committee members and industry stalwarts who contemplated various key themes. Mr. Amit Mehta, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Heavy Industries talked about the developments necessary in vehicle technology for smooth adoption of biofuels amongst customers. Mr. Sunil Kumar, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, expressed his views on the challenges of adoption of various biofuels in the entire value chain in India and the capacity required for a sustainable alternative fuel future. Mr. Subodh Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Food & Public Distribution, highlighted the role of farmers and benefits to them due to widespread biofuel adoption and the capacities build by India towards the adoption of Ethanol fuel. Mr. Shantanu Gupta, Executive Director, IOCL, furthered the discussion by mentioning the importance of 2G ethanol production and Compressed Biogas for economic and environmental goals. Mr. Subhash Kumar, Member ETAC added by mentioning the future of India beyond the current ethanol roadmap. Mr. Atul Mulay expressed the exciting new trends in Biofuel production technologies.