India Launches Global Biofuel Alliance at G20 Summit to Speed Up Net Zero Targets

    India launched the Global Biofuel Alliance at the G20 summit in New Delhi to promote clean energy adoption. This alliance has the USA and Brazil as co-signatories. This move has been lauded as a critical step in increasing the supply and demand for biofuels worldwide. The group is committed to working together to hit the Net Zero target by promoting trade in biomass-derived biofuels, reports Reuters

    The alliance brings together 19 nations and 12 international institutions. The institutions include the World Bank, World Economic Forum, and the Asian Development Bank.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited all the participating nations at the G20 summit to join the alliance. In his speech, the PM also shed light on the country’s commitment to driving sustainability.

    “We are launching the Global Biofuel Alliance. India invites all of you to join this initiative,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his remarks to leaders from the Group of 20 major economies at the summit.

    The biofuel alliance mirrors the International Solar Alliance (ISA) steered by India and France. ISA, launched in 2015, aimed to mobilise efforts to battle climate change by encouraging mass deployment of affordable, clean solar energy. 

    Biofuel plays a critical role in enabling the world’s transportation sector to comply with low-sulfur regulations and achieve long-term decarbonisation. According to a study, biodiesel (B100) holds the potential to reduce net carbon dioxide emissions by 78.45% compared to petroleum diesel. Even a low blend such as B20 brings down carbon dioxide emissions by 15.66% in metropolitan buses. However, the adoption of biofuels in the transportation industry is still slow. In 2022, liquid biofuels represented only 4% of total global transport (mainly road transport) energy demand.

    Whilst many nations hold the potential to evolve as hubs for biofuel production, the reality is that over 80% of the biofuel production worldwide is undertaken by a few countries.

    International Energy Agency (IEA), in its report—Biofuel Policy in Brazil, India, and the United States – Insights for the Global Biofuel Alliance—stressed the urgency of tripling the production of biofuel by 2030 to get on track with the Net Zero Emission (NZE) target by 2050.

    India is increasing its biofuel production capacity to reach its goal of achieving NZE by 2027.

    One of the bedrocks of the country’s clean energy strategy is to increase the use of biofuels in its transportation sector. This commitment is emphasised by the government’s decision to advance its goal to achieve 20% ethanol blending in gasoline—now set at 2025-26 from 2030. 

    Reaching this goal will require a production capacity of around 14.5B litres/year. The Global Alliance on Biofuels is expected to play a pivotal role in helping the country accelerate its ethanol production while also promoting international biofuels trade. 

    India is currently the world’s third-largest oil consumer and importer. It imports approximately 85% of its total crude oil needs. 

    Whilst the alliance is a significant step toward Net Zero, it’s critical to address the challenges the biofuel industry faces. For example, the increasing amount of bio-content in biodiesel exacerbates microbial contamination. That leads to expensive repairs and operational disruptions in engines. Experts stress the importance of periodic fuel testing with advanced kits such as FUELSTAT by Conidia Bioscience to prevent contamination. 

    Coming back to India’s commitment to promoting clean energy, the South Asian nation has detailed its plan to construct 12 bio-refineries. The facilities are expected to ultilise biomass such as plant waste, crop stubble, and municipal solid to produce biofuels and contribute to a more sustainable energy landscape.

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