Alternate Fuel Strategies
Fuels contribute significantly to the entire lifecycle cost of a vehicle (UNEP, page 2011).
The Integrated Transport Policy of India mentions that “total exhaust emission standards for various categories of new vehicles conforming to Euro-II norms”; however, Euro III norms should be adopted. The directive also states that one of the issues in the transport industry of India area “low diesel prices in the past and extreme overloading made possible by lax implementation of rules and regulations which themselves are not very stringent.”
Increased efficiency, which in turn translates to reductions in local pollution and greenhouse gases from the use of these fuels and technologies have proven environmental and economic benefits.
Fuels that can be used as an alternative to petroleum-based transport fuels include natural gas/CNG; biofuels including ethanol, biodiesel and biogas; hydrogen-based fuel cells and low-sulphur fuels. Similar alternative fuels are also being tried and tested in the all modes of transport including rail and aviation for GHG Reduction/ Standards, CO2 standards and Vehicle test procedures. Among these, natural gas is the only one in which complete replacement of the fossil fuel component (petrol or diesel) is possible. The remaining ones are used as blends to conventional fuels.
First generation biofuels were primarily produced from food crops like grains and oil seeds like ethanol from sugarcane and biodiesel from rapeseed and palm oil. Apart from sugarcane, such fuels create undue competition for land used for food and cash-crop cultivation. The second generation biofuels are manufactured from non-food biomass including jatropha, bagasse, forest residues and straw (IEA).
With huge availability of wasteland and potential biomass resources, combined with increasing demand of fuel for transport, biofuels are expected to create a significant impact – however, only if larger yields are possible and production costs are brought down. Biofuel production is also expected to have a positive impact on rural employment generation.
A National Bio-fuel Policy, based solely on non-food feedstock, for creating new employment opportunities in rural areas, is on the anvil. In addition, introduction of fuel economy labels and standards framework for passenger cars are being carried out by the Ministry of Power, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Bureau of Energy Efficiency and the Department of Heavy Industries.