India, a land of diverse landscape and a burgeoning population, faces a dual challenge, meeting its energy needs while combating environmental concerns. In pursuit of sustainable solutions, exploring biofuel plant varieties emerges as a promising avenue. Biofuels, derived from renewable biological resources, present a viable alternative to conventional fossil fuels, offering reduced carbon emissions and a pathway to energy independence.
As India rapidly expands its economy, energy needs grow alongside environmental concerns. Balancing these demands presents a unique challenge, prompting a shift toward sustainable solutions. Biofuels emerge as a promising alternative, addressing the quest for cleaner energy sources. This exploration delves into a diverse range of biofuel plant varieties poised to shape India’s green energy future.
India is a developing country with an exponentially growing population and experiencing unprecedented growth. India’s oil consumption is the third largest in the world. Nearly 70% of diesel and 99.6% of petrol are consumed by the transport sector. In 2016, India’s crude oil consumption was 249 million tonnes while the production was only 41 Mt. It means India’s domestic production of crude oil is only able to cover 20% of its demand, and the remaining 80% is met through import.
The Current State of Biofuel Production in India
Biofuels are identified as the primary energy sources obtained in solid, liquid, and gas form from biomass, and food crops such as sunflower seeds, palm fruit, jatropha seeds, rapeseed, soybean, etc. “India has an annual biomass availability of 500 million tonnes, of which 120 to 150 million tonnes are surplus.” 
Further, 12.83% of the total renewable energy generation is contributed by biofuels alone. Moreover, higher conversion efficiencies and lower costs are the significant drivers of bio-energy extraction. The benefits of biofuels are energy security, reduction of import dependency, cleaner environment, municipality, solid waste (MSW) management, health benefits, infrastructure investment in rural areas, employment generation, and overall additional income to farmers. The liquid biofuels are biodiesel or bioethanol and gaseous biofuel compressed biogas (CBG) or Bio CNG.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), biofuels have the potential to meet more than a quarter of world demand for transportation fuels by 2050 if favorable policies and investments are in place. At present, biofuels are supported by governments in many different ways, including mandates or targets subsidies, tax exemptions and credits, reduced import duties, support for research and development (R&D), and direct involvement in biofuel production, as well as other incentives to encourage local biofuel production and use.
Biofuel Policy in India
In 2001, India started a modest 5% ethanol blending pilot program. The biofuel mission was adopted in 2003 with the launch of the national mission on biodiesel plants which sought to achieve 20% biodiesel blending in diesel by 2011-12. This was followed by the national policy on biofuel (NPB) in 2009 and subsequently, the revised NPB was launched in 2018.
The revised policy biofuels, NPB 2018, became effective on May 16, 2018, and proposed an indicative blending target of 20% ethanol in petrol and 5% biodiesel in diesel by 2030. The objective of NPB 2018 is to reduce crude oil imports, augment farmers’ income, generate employment, optimally use drylands, and contribute to sustainability. The policy aims to provide financial and fiscal incentives specific to biofuel type, categorized as first-generation (1G), second-generation (2G), and third-generation (3G) fuels.
Policies like Sustainable Alternatives Toward Affordable Transportation (SATAT) seek to establish compressed biogas production units and make CBG available for usage as green on the market.
Key Biofuel plant varieties in India
Biodiesel Crops & Ethanol Sources
Biodiesel crops and ethanol sources are the two major individuals in the biofuels market in India. Plants including oilseeds, Pongamia, and jatropha are used to make biodiesel. By generating oil that can be converted into environmentally beneficial diesel, these facilities are powerful. Conversely, sugarcane, corn, and other cereals are the sources of the trendy companion, ethanol. These plant types are very proficient at converting their sugars and scraps into a green fuel that powers our automobiles and clears up some of the environmental pollution.
Technological Innovations in Biofuels Cultivation
Advancements in technology are influencing the way that advanced biofuel feedstocks are produced. Modern innovations are transforming the way we extract energy from sources such as waste materials, algae, and cellulosic biomass. These advances are helping drive the biofuel sector ahead, offering new fresh possibilities for the creation of sustainable energy and lowering dependency on conventional fossil fuels.
Challenges of Biodiesel Fuel
Challenges in today’s rapidly evolving world include technological disruption, climate change, global health crises, and more. But within these challenges lie opportunities for innovation, sustainable development, and international cooperation. Leveraging digital transformation, adopting green practices, and promoting resilient health systems offer opportunities for positive change. Addressing these challenges with a positive mindset can create opportunities for change for individuals, businesses, and society.
In conclusion, the exploration of diverse biofuel plant varieties holds immense promise for fueling India’s future with sustainable energy. Embracing green alternatives not only mitigates environmental concerns but also propels the nation toward energy security. Cultivating biofuels stands as a strategic imperative for India’s sustainable and eco-friendly energy landscape.