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New Delhi: In a bid to counter OPEC, India is looking at creating an alliance of biofuel producing countries, with biofuel expected to be part of the agenda of G20 summit scheduled to be held in India on 9-10 September next year, said an official in the know of the developments.

India is set to take up the G20 Presidency in December 2022. Several major biofuel producers including the US, Brazil, Argentina, Indonesia and China are part of G20.

“We are looking at having some kind of an international collaboration when we take over the G20 presidency. All the major producers of biofuels are members of G20," said the official.

The alliance would initially focus on knowledge sharing and transfer of technology on production of biofuel from feedstock and 2G and 3G biofuels, rather than trade, the official added.

First generation biofuels are produced from sugar, starch, corn, wheat, broken rice among others. 2G or second generation biofuels are produced from various types of non-food biomass, such as plant materials and animal waste. On the other hand 3G biofuel is the fuel produced from microorganisms such as bacteria and algae.

“We are not looking at importing or exporting. We are just talking about an alliance of like-minded countries to see on how the knowledge exchange and R&D can happen, and then we can see (if trade can take place). That’s a major priority as biofuel is an emerging fuel for future," the official added.

In 2018, the Centre restricted the import and export of biofuels in a bid to increase the domestic capacity.

The official said that Centre also is looking for bilateral agreements for development of biofuels. India is eyeing on the US, apart from Brazil among others for bilateral coordination, the official said.

During the Brazilian mines an energy minister Bento Albuquerque visit to India in April, both the countries agreed on the importance of strengthening the bilateral cooperation in bioenergy and agreed to work towards developing an Indian-Brazil Alliance for bioenergy and biofuels.

The Brazilian minister and the Hardeep Singh Puri, the union minister for petroleum and natural gas during their talks “also noted bilateral coordination within G-20 on climate and energy, BRICS energy ministerial, biofuture platform" among others said a joint statement released after their meeting on 21 April.

The plan comes at a time when India is eyeing for energy security as the world stares at an energy crisis amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict. With around 85% of the country’s energy requirement being met through imports, the crisis may have a severe impact for India.

The move for an alliance of biofuel producers is planned to achieve energy security for oil importing countries, keeping in view the hold the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies including Russia, together known as ‘OPEC+’, have over the global crude oil market.

Amid concerns of a global energy crisis, OPEC+ recently decided to lower its daily production level by 100,000 barrels per day for October, which resulted in a spike in prices for a short span. India has time and again asked OPEC and its member countries to raise production keeping in view the requirement of oil consuming nations.

 

India also has an ambitious biofuel roadmap under its national biofuel policy. Government has set a target to achieve 20% ethanol blending in petrol by 2025-26. The initial deadline to achieve 20% blending was 2030. The target of petrol supplies with 10% ethanol blending was achieved in June this year, ahead of the original schedule of November 2022

Launched in 2018 with a thrust on advanced biofuels, the policy indicates a viability gap funding scheme for 2G ethanol bio refineries of 5,000 crore in six years in addition to additional tax incentives, higher purchase price as compared to 1G biofuels. The policy encourages setting up of supply chain mechanisms for biodiesel production from non-edible oilseeds, used cooking oil and short gestation crops.

Prashant Vashisht, vice president, at ICRA noted that an alliance if formed with countries which have made progress in biofuels, would help India in developing its biofuel space which is at a nascent stage.

“Beyond Ethanol, there has not been much progress in terms of volumes in India. Biodiesel production also is very low in small quantity. These things are still evolving in terms of technology. So, an alliance would facilitate the technologically advanced countries help India and other countries," he said.

Queries sent to the ministry of petroleum and natural gas, ministry of external affairs and the ministry of finance remained unanswered till press time.

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