Thursday, June 12, 2014

Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP/ Petrohol): An Opportunity Lost for India due to Maximum Government!

Recently, the Obama government in the USA made an apparently atrocious policy declaration that in effect was equivalent to a declaration of war on coal. What the policy actually meant is the reduction of coal based power production facilities in the US as a commitment towards saving the planet from global warming that the environmentalists are worried about much. Because, fossil fuel burning causes too much of carbon footprint with enhanced presence of green house gases in the atmosphere responsible for global warming

Fox News observed that this policy is 'all pain and no gain'. 

I am not going to enter in to that debate. But I feel that the US president has given too much thought to it before making such a declaration. It is time that we start doing some thing seriously to reduce our dependency on all fossil fuels which are going to be permanently out of stock some time later.

It is not that we reduce burning coal in our thermal power stations to make electricity. We should also reduce burning petrol and diesel in our automobiles and airplanes.

There are plenty of alternatives to fossil fuels which we now call as the renewable energy sources. Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) which is sometimes also called petrohol is widely used successfully in Brazil for the past many decades. The USA too has advanced much in this field (Read this official article about ethanol use in the US) EBP is nothing but a mixture of normal petrol and ethanol in the ratio 85:15. In the USA all gasoline sold now is blended with about 10% ethanol. Thus, USA has achieved a reduction in the consumption of petroleum to the extent of 10% which is remarkable. It seems they are planning to make further progress in this field. Brazil is the pioneer in this technology. In Brazil EBP is mandatory and the ethanol mixing is as high as 25%. 

Bio-diesel is another alternate renewable liquid fuel which could be produced without much difficulty. It could be easily used in all auto engines that use petroleum diesel.

While India spends much money for importing petroleum products and much is dependent on the prices of petrol and diesel, people like me who are in the technical field keep wondering why our Indian leaders keep inactive on taking any decisions in line with Brazil or the USA while politicizing the petrol price issues as much as they can!  

Petroleum is big money for some and it is a big item for international trade and economics. There are many shrewd economists and policy advisers who can manipulate petrol price fixing an issue not easily understood even by the professionals who toil hard with the complex technologies of producing these fuels. I had earlier written about this in a previous blog article

Recently I had gone through a paper on ethanol blending policy authored by some policy researchers attached with the ICRIER ( I could find the full form of this acronym only after some web research. It stands for Indian Council for Research and International Economic Relations. Its website declare that it is is an autonomous, policy-oriented, not-for-profit, economic policy think tank.

Typically this is the manner in which our technical people associated with governmental affairs handle things. They bring out many facts and figures and finally give out some recommendations which would never be anything concrete, but confusing. In my opinion, this kind of policy papers make things complicated for the decision makers.

No wonder then why India keeps on dilly-dallying with the various alternate energy programs. No wonder why EBP and bio-diesel are yet to hit the Indian markets.

It should not be any thing of a big issue when two big nations, Brazil and USA have gone ahead with the production and marketing of EBP and bio-diesel in a big way including many policy decisions. But of course, that happens only when vested interests give way to national interests.

If India is determined to produce industrial alcohol for the production of mixed petroleum fuel such as the EBP, the farmers would benefit much. Millions of jobs would be created. India as a nation would spend less for importing petroleum.

But a government surrounded by all kinds of researchers and advisers who are good at making sophisticated research publications and economic policy papers with inconclusive recommendations to the government are not going to do any good. 

Will the new government make any difference?

Only time would tell.

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