Wed. Oct 4th, 2023
    The Challenges of Biodiesel Usage in India

    The use of biodiesel as an alternative fuel source is being strongly advocated by the Indian government. However, there are several challenges that hinder its increased usage. One of the main concerns is the shortage of biodiesel across India. This scarcity of supply makes it difficult for transporters to access the fuel and incorporate it into their operations.

    Biodiesel is a renewable and biodegradable fuel that is manufactured domestically from vegetable oils, animal fats, and waste oils. It is an environmentally friendly fuel that does not contain sulphur or aromatics and has a built-in oxygen content of about 10 percent. Despite the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas releasing the Biodiesel Purchase Policy over 18 years ago, the offtake of biodiesel has been poor.

    The COVID-19 pandemic has also impacted the demand for biodiesel in India. While annual consumption of biodiesel had been growing steadily until 2019, the pandemic caused a significant drop in demand. The limited applications of biodiesel, which include OMC retail outlets, the Indian railways, certain state road transport corporations, road transport fleet companies, and port authorities, contribute to the muted demand.

    Furthermore, there is a lack of clarity regarding the use of biodiesel and a scarcity of government-authorised outlets for its distribution. This absence of officially approved outlets makes it challenging to gather real-time data on biodiesel usage and determine its effectiveness, efficiency, emissions, and density. The absence of government incentives or mandates also discourages transport companies from transitioning to biodiesel.

    The formal launch of biodiesel by the government, accompanied by defined quality standards and efficacy guarantees, is still pending. In the absence of these standards, there have been instances of industrial-grade oil being marketed as biodiesel, leading to potential damage to fuel pumps and injectors. All of these factors contribute to the limited utilisation of biodiesel in India.

    In conclusion, while the Indian government promotes the use of biodiesel, there are significant hurdles that need to be addressed. These include the shortage of biodiesel, concerns about engine damage, and the lack of clarity and government-sanctioned outlets for its distribution. Overcoming these challenges and implementing supportive policies and infrastructure will be crucial for the increased adoption of biodiesel in India.

    – The Centre is strongly advocating among transporters the use of biodiesel. However, its shortage across India, worry about damage to the engine when used, and lack of clarity on the use of environment-friendly fuel have put a brake on its increased usage.
    – Growth prospects
    – Impact of the pandemic
    – The absence of incentives