Ethanol production from sugarcane in India

(Sugarcane growing farmers were always in stress because of distress in sugar market of India. The industries too were always in stake of loss.)

India stands second in area 3.93 m. ha and production 167 m.t among the sugarcane growing countries of the world. The government of India has notified a decision of making ethanol by sugarcane or b-molasses.

India stands second in area 3.93 m. ha and production 167 m.t among the sugarcane growing countries of the world. The government of India has notified a decision of making ethanol by sugarcane or b-molasses. In 2008 India imported 128.15 million metric tons of crude, constituting 75% of its total petroleum consumption for that year. By 2025 it will be importing 90% of its petroleum (UNESCAP 2009). In an effort to increase its energy security and independence, the Government of India in October of 2007 set a 20% ethanol blend target for gasoline fuel to be met by 2017. However, blending was 3.5 per cent in the 2016-17 sugar season, so the target was obviously missed. So, if the policy is adopted fairly, this initiative can really help sugarcane industries to blend the use in surplus years. Cane-based ethanol can be produced by three different ways from cane juice, from B-grade and C-grade molasses. Ethanol has been produced from C-grade molasses, as production from the other two varieties wasn’t remunerative enough in the absence of any stable policy regime. Additionally, before there was a restriction on directly producing ethanol from b-molasses. Even when the restriction was removed, there wasn’t any new taker of the policy but since last few years the production of ethanol from sugarcane has definitely increased. Producing ethanol directly from sugarcane was always in trend, Brazil is biggest producer of ethanol and the method they had always adopted is the same. However, in India there was a restriction due to low production but as the production increased, gradually the policies too. With sugar production jumping by a record 12 million tons in the 2016-17 season to almost 32 million tons in the 2017-18 season on the back of newer high-yielding varieties, the issue of sugar shortage no longer appears relevant at least for the next few years. The increase in consumption of fossil fuels as economies grow and the nearing depletion of such fuels has prompted a search for their alternatives. Bio-fuels have emerged as an alternative for fuel oil and is served for multiple purposes. Sugarcane growing farmers were always in stress because of distress in sugar market of India. The industries too were always in stake of loss. Thus, producing ethanol directly from sugarcane can benefit the industries additionally, thus formulating a proper regime regarding payment to the farmers on time which is a very important aspect. So, as per my point of view, this policy is really beneficial if used judiciously.

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