NEW DELHI: In a significant stride towards sustainable energy practices, the National Biofuels Coordination Committee, led by Union Petroleum Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, has introduced a phased mandatory blending initiative for Compressed Bio-Gas (CBG) in the city gas distribution sector. The decision aims to foster an investment influx of approximately Rs. 37,500 crores, with the goal of establishing 750 CBG projects by 2028-29.
The primary objective of this initiative is to stimulate demand for CBG, subsequently decreasing the reliance on expensive Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) imports and conserving foreign exchange reserves. Additionally, the plan aligns with India's commitment to achieving net-zero emissions, a crucial step in the global effort to combat climate change.
Under the outlined roadmap, CBG blending will initially be voluntary until the financial year 2024-2025, with mandatory obligations set to commence from 2025-26. The blending obligation will incrementally rise to 1%, 3%, and 4% of total CNG/PNG consumption for the fiscal years 2025-26, 2026-27, and 2027-28, respectively. From the fiscal year 2028-29 onwards, a 5% CBG blending obligation will be enforced.
To ensure effective implementation, a Central Repository Body (CRB) will oversee and enforce the blending mandate based on operational guidelines sanctioned by the Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas.
In tandem with the biofuel push, discussions have been initiated to promote ethanol production from maize. Collaborative efforts with stakeholders, particularly the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Food and Public Distribution (DFPD), aim to position maize as a prominent feedstock in the coming years. Notably, there has been a recent uptick in maize cultivation area, yield per hectare, and overall production. The ministry, in consultation with relevant departments, is actively working on developing high-starch-yielding maize varieties, improving maize DDGS quality, and expediting the registration of new seed varieties with high starch content.
In another noteworthy development, the committee has set initial indicative blending percentage targets for Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF/Bio-ATF). Informed by inputs from stakeholders such as the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), Niti Aayog, and oil companies (OMCs), the approved targets are a 1% SAF indicative blending target in 2027 (initially for international flights) and a 2% SAF blending target in 2028 (also initially for international flights).
This multi-faceted approach underscores India's commitment to diversifying its energy portfolio, reducing environmental impact, and fostering self-sufficiency in the energy sector. The biofuel mandate not only addresses immediate energy concerns but also positions India as a key player in the global transition towards sustainable and eco-friendly practices.