Biofuel – A credible alternative to fossil fuel in the future
Biofuel – A credible alternative to fossil fuel in the future Times of India
On September 10, 2023, on the sidelines of the Annual G-20 summit in New Delhi, an India-led grouping, the Global Biofuel Alliance had decided to give impetus to the production and use of biofuels as an alternative to fossil fuels like petroleum and diesel with an aim to collectively reduce emissions in the transportation and industrial sectors.
The Global Biofuels Alliance is a multi-stakeholder alliance of governments, international organisations and industries directed towards expediting global uptake of biofuels. The alliance presently has 22 member countries and 12 international organisations, and has been expanding continuously.
Biofuels, derived from renewable sources, such as biomass and agricultural waste are believed to offer a greener alternative to conventional fossil fuels with lower carbon emissions. The GBA’s mission is to drive these sustainable alternatives into the mainstream, contributing significantly to climate change mitigation.
Biofuel, a Cost-efficient alternative to fossil fuel
Historically, biofuel production has involved high production costs, making it a less attractive option against traditional fossil fuels. The collaborative efforts and knowledge-sharing by the GBA alliance partners, facilitating the sharing of best practices, technology transfers, and the development of robust global markets is expected to help countries realise economies of scale, leading to significant cost reductions in biofuel production, rendering it a more attractive proposition for the industry.
Nations worldwide are therefore coming together to champion biofuels, recognising their pivotal role in curbing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change.
India’s record on the Biofuel front
Recently, on Friday, 17th of November, 2023, India extended an invitation to countries in the Global South to join the Alliance, underlining India’s willingness to share its expertise in biofuels with developing and less developed nations.
Underscoring India’s achievement on the biofuel front, Oil Minister Hardeep Singh Puri of India, speaking at the 2nd Voice of Global South Summit, informed that India had achieved the target of mixing 10% ethanol in petrol in May 2022, five months ahead of the deadline, and has advanced the target of 20% ethanol blending in petrol from 2030 to 2025.
Stating further, he said, going up from 1.4% biofuels blending in petrol in 2014, India has achieved 10% blending of ethanol in petrol in May 2022. This has helped boost farmers’ income with a payment of USD 8.7 billion, and lowered carbon dioxide emission by more than 40 million metric tonnes in the last 9 years.
Puri indicated India’s keenness to collaborate with countries of the Global South, including knowledge sharing, technology transfer, joint R&D activities, and development of human capabilities to name a few areas in this respect.
What are Biofuels?
Biofuels are fuels made from biomass, such as plants or waste materials that can be converted into energy. Proponents of biofuels argue that they are a sustainable and renewable source of energy unlike fossil fuels which are finite and will eventually run out. Additionally, biofuels are also said to emit fewer greenhouse gases than fossil fuels, making them a more environmentally-friendly option. Fossil fuels, on the other hand, are derived from natural resources that took millions of years to form, such as oil, coal, and natural gas.
Biofuels are also believed to have the potential to completely replace fossil fuels. They are said to be cleaner, more sustainable, and more affordable than fossil fuels. Biofuels are already being used in countries, such as Brazil and the United States, it is stated in support of Biofuel.
Economic benefits claimed of Biofuels
It is stated, Biofuels have numerous economic benefits that make them a valuable alternative to traditional fossil fuels, including:
- Biofuels can often be produced at a lower cost than conventional fuels, making them an attractive option for businesses and consumers looking to save money on energy expenses;
- As demand for biofuels increases, the need for workers in fields such as agriculture, engineering, and transportation will also increase;
- Because many biofuels are produced locally or domestically, they can help reduce dependence on imported oil and increase national energy security.
- By utilizing biofuels instead of traditional fossil fuels, companies in the automotive industry can contribute, not only towards sustainable practices but also help the industry reap various economic benefits.
Types of Renewable fuels
Renewable fuels are derived from organic matter such as plants and animals. Various types of biofuels available today, include:
- Bioethanol, made from fermenting sugar and starch crops such as corn, sugarcane or wheat & is used primarily as a gasoline substitute in the transportation sector.
- Biodiesel, made from vegetable oils, animal fats or recycled restaurant grease. This biofuel is commonly blended with diesel fuel for use in diesel engines.
- Biogas, produced by anaerobic digestion (the process of breaking down plant or animal matter by microbial action in the absence of air, to produce a gas with a high methane content) of organic matter like agricultural waste or sewage. It can be burnt to generate electricity or used as a fuel for vehicles.
- Electrofuels, also known as e-fuels, a class of bio-synthetic fuels (E-fuels, like e-methane, e-kerosene and e-methanol, are all fuels in gas or liquid form that are produced from renewables like, from solar or wind power or decarbonised electricity. Such fuels have the potential to reduce emissions significantly, while being suitable for combustion engine applications.
With the growing pressure to lower carbon emissions worldwide, the application of biofuels is believed to be a plausible solution to the replacement of oil, provided we are able to meet the land requirements to increase the resources available to make biofuels economically profitable enabling us to replace the fossil fuel we use today by undercutting the rising oil prices. In the near future, if biofuels become available for countries to utilize globally, it will have a significant impact on the global economy and the environment. India’s invitation to countries of the Global South assumes significance in this respect.
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SDGs, Targets, and Indicators Analysis
1. Which SDGs are addressed or connected to the issues highlighted in the article?
- SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
- SDG 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
- SDG 13: Climate Action
- SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals
The issues highlighted in the article are connected to these SDGs because they focus on the production and use of biofuels as an alternative to fossil fuels, which contributes to affordable and clean energy, promotes innovation and infrastructure development, mitigates climate change, and encourages international partnerships.
2. What specific targets under those SDGs can be identified based on the article’s content?
- Target 7.2: Increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
- Target 9.4: Upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes.
- Target 13.2: Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies, and planning.
- Target 17.16: Enhance the global partnership for sustainable development, complemented by multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology, and financial resources.
The article mentions the production and use of biofuels as a means to increase the share of renewable energy, upgrade infrastructure and industries towards sustainability, integrate climate change measures into policies, and promote global partnerships for sustainable development.
3. Are there any indicators mentioned or implied in the article that can be used to measure progress towards the identified targets?
- Indicator 7.2.1: Renewable energy share in the total final energy consumption.
- Indicator 9.4.1: CO2 emissions per unit of value added.
- Indicator 13.2.1: Number of countries that have communicated the establishment or operationalization of an integrated policy/strategy/plan that addresses climate change adaptation, mitigation, impact reduction, and early warning.
- Indicator 17.16.1: Number of countries reporting progress in multi-stakeholder development effectiveness monitoring frameworks that support the achievement of the sustainable development goals.
The article implies the need to measure the renewable energy share in total energy consumption, CO2 emissions per unit of value added, the establishment of integrated climate change policies/strategies/plans, and progress in multi-stakeholder development effectiveness monitoring frameworks.
Table: SDGs, Targets, and Indicators
|SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy||Target 7.2: Increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.||Indicator 7.2.1: Renewable energy share in the total final energy consumption.|
|SDG 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure||Target 9.4: Upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes.||Indicator 9.4.1: CO2 emissions per unit of value added.|
|SDG 13: Climate Action||Target 13.2: Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies, and planning.||Indicator 13.2.1: Number of countries that have communicated the establishment or operationalization of an integrated policy/strategy/plan that addresses climate change adaptation, mitigation, impact reduction, and early warning.|
|SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals||Target 17.16: Enhance the global partnership for sustainable development, complemented by multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology, and financial resources.||Indicator 17.16.1: Number of countries reporting progress in multi-stakeholder development effectiveness monitoring frameworks that support the achievement of the sustainable development goals.|
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