Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari on Saturday August 27 stressed the need to reduce sugar production and instead diversify from agriculture into the energy and electricity sectors in order to reduce the country’s fuel import bill.
While addressing the National Cogeneration Awards 2022 congratulation program in Mumbai, Gadkari said overproduction of sugar is a problem for the economy.
Pointing out that India spends Rs 15 lakh crore annually on importing petroleum products, Gadkari highlighted the need to diversify from the agricultural sector towards the energy and power sectors.
The Minister urged the industry of the crucial need to focus on alternative fuels using futuristic technologies.
“While 65-70% of our population depends on agriculture, our agricultural growth rate is only 12-13%; the sugarcane industry and farmers are a growth engine for our industry. And the next step should be cogeneration to increase sugar revenues,” the minister said.
“The industry should produce less sugar and produce more by-products, embracing the vision of futuristic technologies and using the power of leadership to convert knowledge into wealth,” he added.
This will enable farmers to become not only food producers but also energy producers, he said.
He said while India’s requirement was 280 lakh tonnes of sugar this year, the production was over 360 lakh tonnes and that could be utilized due to the situation in Brazil.
It should be noted that due to this year’s low production in Brazil, the world’s largest sugar producer, India’s sugar exports are expected to increase to about 9-10 million tonnes during the 2022 sugar season, surpassing the previous record of 7.2 million tonnes in the sugar sector. 2021 season.
However, we must redirect production towards ethanol because the need for ethanol is very high, the minister stressed.
“Last year’s capacity was 400 million liters of ethanol; we have taken many initiatives to increase the production of ethanol. Now is the time for the industry to plan for ethanol demand, using technologies such as electricity generators running on bioethanol,” he said.
The minister told the industry that the government has decided to launch flexible motors in India.
“Bajaj, Hero and TVS are already making flex engines, many automakers have also promised to launch their models on flex engines,” he said.
The Minister explained how a crucial issue on the calorific value of ethanol was addressed during discussions with Russian researchers.
“The calorific value of ethanol was lower, 1 liter of gasoline was equivalent to 1.3 liters of ethanol, but using Russian technology, we found a way to make the calorific value of ethanol is the same as that of gasoline,” said the Minister.
He said even auto rickshaws can run on bioethanol and in the construction equipment industry too, alternative fuels can be used.
Similarly, Germany has proven technology for running trains on bioethanol.
A highly purified version of ethanol can also be used in the aviation industry and the aviation sector is researching how this can be done, he added.
“Bio-CNG is much cheaper than CNG and can be made from rice straw and even organic municipal waste, which makes it economically attractive,” he said.
The Minister reminded the industry that it is possible to use harvesting technologies for the cutting of sugar cane.
“Harvesting machines can use ethanol as a fuel, which makes the circular economy possible,” he said.