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"RUCO" focus for World Biofuel Day 2019

The "production of biodiesel from Used Cooking Oil (UCO)” is the overarching theme for this year's edition of India's World Biofuel Day to be held on August 10, 2019, at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi. According to the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas (MoP&NG), an Expression of Interest (EoI) for the procurement of biodiesel made from UCO across 100 cities is to be floated during the event under a "Repurpose Used Cooking Oil (RUCO)" awareness campaign.

“World Biofuel Day” is observed in India on August 10, since 2015 when biodiesel blending was first introduced. Apart from PM Modi, the 2018 event was also attended by Shri Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways, Shipping, and Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation; Shri Ramvilas Paswan, Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution; Shri Radha Mohan Singh, Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Science & Technology, Earth Sciences, and Environment, Forest & Climate Change; and Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas, and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (photo courtesy IndianOil).

Observed in India on August 10, World Biofuel Day aims to create awareness about the importance of non-fossil fuels as an alternative to conventional fossil fuels and highlight the various efforts made by the government of India in the biofuel sector.

According to a statement, the Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas & Steel Shri. Dharmendra Pradhan will inaugurate the programme while the Minister of Health & Family Welfare, Science & Technology, and Earth Sciences Dr Harsh Vardhan will be the Chief Guest of the function.

This year the theme of the World Biofuel Day is “Production of Biodiesel from Used Cooking Oil (UCO)”.

Focus on UCO

According to the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas (MoP&NG), biofuels have the benefits of reduction of import dependence, a cleaner environment, additional income to farmers and employment generation.

A number of initiatives have been undertaken to increase production and blending of biofuels since 2014 and the biofuel programme also complements the government of India’s initiatives for Make in India, Swachh Bharat and increasing farmers income.

In India, the same cooking oil (UCO) is used for repeated frying which adversely affects the health due to the formation of polar compounds during frying. These polar compounds are associated with diseases such as hypertension, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, liver diseases among others.

UCO is either not discarded at all or disposed of in an environmentally hazardous manner choking drains and sewer systems.

Therefore, the National Policy on Biofuels, released by the Government of India in 2018, envisages production of biofuel from UCO. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is implementing a strategy to divert UCO from the food value chain and curb current illegal usage.

Major opportunity

The benefits of transformation of UCO will help bring health benefits as there would be no recycling of the UCO, employment generation, infrastructural investment in rural areas and cleaner environment with a reduced carbon footprint.

Aemetis subsidiary in India, Universal Biofuels India operates a 50 million US gallon (≈190 million litres) per annum biodiesel plant in Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh (photo courtesy Aemetis).

Aemetis subsidiary in India, Universal Biofuels India operates a 50 million US gallon (≈190 million litres) per annum biodiesel plant in Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh (photo courtesy Aemetis).

At present, approximately 850 crore (8.5 billion) litres of High-Speed Diesel – HSD (diesel used in automotive applications) is consumed on a monthly basis in India. The National Policy on Biofuels envisages a target of 5 percent blending of biodiesel in HSD by 2030. In order to achieve the blending target, 500 crore (5 billion) litres of biodiesel is required in a year.

MoP&NG estimates that approximately 22.7 million tonnes per annum (≈ 27 billion litres) of cooking oil is used in India out of which 1.2 million tonnes per annum (1.4 billion litres) UCO can be collected from bulk consumers such as hotels, restaurants, canteens, etc. for conversion, which will give approximately 1.1 billion litres of biodiesel in one year.

However, MoP&NG notes that presently there is no established collection chain for UCO in India yet that there is a huge opportunity in the production of biodiesel from UCO.

Expression of Interest

To facilitate the production of biodiesel from UCO, the Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) shall float an Expression of Interest (EOI) for procurement of biodiesel derived from UCO across 100 cities. The purpose of inviting this EOI is to encourage the applicants to set up biodiesel producing plants from UCO, processing plants and further utilizing the existing potential of UCO based biodiesel in India.

On this occasion, a sticker on Repurpose Used Cooking Oil (RUCO) and a mobile app to facilitate the collection of UCO shall also be released by FSSAI.

Interactive sessions on Second Generation Ethanol & Biodiesel from UCO shall also be held. The sessions will focus on issues and hurdles being faced by the sector and dwell on how to overcome these hurdles for effective implementation of the blending programme across the country.

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