October 1, 2022

Gadkari, Energy News, ET EnergyWorld


Mumbai: Over-production of sugar is a problem for the economy and thus there is a need to diversify the use of some agricultural produce for the generation of energy and power, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari said on Saturday.

Addressing the felicitation programme of the National Cogeneration Awards 2022 in Mumbai, Gadkari said India spends around Rs 15 lakh crore per year on the import of petroleum products.

He exhorted the industry on the crucial need to focus on alternative fuels with the help of futuristic technologies.

“While 65 to 70 per cent of our population depends on agriculture, our agricultural growth rate is 12 to 13 per cent only. The sugarcane industry and farmers are the growth engine for our industry. And the next move should be cogeneration to increase revenue from sugar,” Gadkari said.

“The industry should produce less sugar and produce more by-products, embracing the vision for futuristic technologies and using the power of leadership to convert knowledge into wealth. This will enable the farmers to become not only food growers but energy producers as well,” he said.

The minister added, “while our requirement was 280 lakh tonnes of sugar this year, the production was more than 360 lakh tonnes; this could be utilised due to the situation in Brazil. However, we need to divert production towards ethanol as the ethanol requirement is very high.”

“Last year’s capacity was 400 crore litres of ethanol; we have taken a lot of initiatives to increase ethanol production. Now is the time for the industry to plan demand for ethanol, using technologies such as power generators run by bioethanol,” he said.

The minister told the industry that the Government has decided to launch flex engines in India. “Bajaj, Hero and TVS are already making flex engines, many car manufacturers too have promised to launch their models on flex engines,” he said.

The minister informed how a crucial problem on the calorific value of ethanol has been addressed in discussion with researchers from Russia. “Calorific value of ethanol was less, 1 litre of petrol equalled 1.3 litre of ethanol, but using Russian technology, we have found a way to make the calorific value of ethanol the same as that of petrol.”

Gadkari highlighted: even auto-rickshaws can be run on bioethanol; in the construction equipment industry too, alternative fuels can be used, similarly, Germany has proven technology to run trains on bio-ethanol. A highly purified version of ethanol can also be used in the aviation industry; the aeronautical sector is doing research on how this can be done.

“Bio-CNG is way cheaper than CNG and can be made from rice straw and even from organic municipal waste, making it economically attractive,” he said.

The minister reminded the industry that there is scope for using harvesting technologies for cutting of sugarcane. “Harvesting machines can use ethanol as a fuel, making the circular economy possible.”

The sugar industry faces many problems and we need rationalisation of power purchase rates; some states are not giving rates as per Central government policy, this is one reason why the sugarcane industry is not economically viable, the minister said, asking the industry to raise the matter at appropriate forums. (ANI)



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