source: Indian Express

India’s Path to Sustainable Energy: The Global Biofuels Alliance (GBA) and Beyond

source: Indian Express


The Biofuel Alliance is a win-win situation for Atmanirbhar Bharat. It will help to reduce air pollution, create jobs, and make India a leader in the production and use of biofuels.”Union Minister Nitin Gadkari



The founding of the Global Biofuels Alliance at the G20 Summit in New Delhi marks a significant turning point in India’s progress toward sustainability and energy independence. India, the third-largest oil user in the world, must balance fighting climate change with the difficulty of lowering its reliance on imported oil. The Global Biofuels Alliance, which aims to promote the use of sustainable biofuels and sets challenging goals for ethanol blending with gasoline, presents a viable solution to this complex problem.

This alliance, which unites countries from all over the world to increase the use of sustainable biofuels and facilitate international commerce in biofuels, was launched under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. With backing from 19 nations and 12 international organizations, the GBA was spearheaded by Brazil, India, and the United States.

Biofuels are a cleaner option to traditional fossil fuels because they are made from renewable sources like biomass. The alliance’s goals are to stimulate global collaboration, support national biofuel initiatives, and encourage the use of environmentally benign energy sources.


Founding Members and Observers: The GBA’s inception involved nine founding members, with Canada and Singapore serving as observers. These initiators comprise countries such as the United States, Brazil, Argentina, and India, along with various others. Additionally, a total of 19 nations and 12 international organizations have endorsed the alliance.

 Multicultural Alliance: The GBA’s inclusivity is a prominent feature, as it encompasses G20 member nations, invitee countries, and non-members, reflecting its global reach.

International Organization Support: The alliance has garnered support from significant international bodies, including the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and International Energy Agency, underscoring its credibility and potential impact.

Clean Energy Vision: Prime Minister Modi’s vision for the GBA centers on the promotion of renewable energy and sustainability. Biofuels derived from plant and biowaste sources are recognized for their positive environmental attributes compared to conventional fossil fuels.

Pledge of World Cooperation: At the G20 Summit, Prime Minister Modi called for enhanced international collaboration in the biofuels sector and the promotion of sustainable biofuel use.

Goals and Future Expansion: The GBA’s initial priorities include ensuring a consistent supply of affordable and eco-friendly biofuels. The founding members aspire to expand the association by inviting like-minded nations that share their principles.

Leading Biofuel Producers: The alliance heavily relies on the United States and Brazil, both renowned for their biofuel production and consumption.

Facilitating Sustainable Biofuel Development: The GBA is committed to fostering the development of sustainable biofuels through various means, including the establishment of a virtual market, capacity building, technical support, policy exchange, and the deployment of eco-friendly biofuels.

India’s Energy Transition: Given India’s status as one of the world’s largest consumers of crude oil, the country views biofuels as a crucial component of reducing its dependence on energy imports and mitigating carbon emissions.

What is the current scenario of India’s oil import or consumption?

With a consumption of roughly 5 million barrels per day, India ranks third in the world after China and the US. The country’s oil demand is increasing at a rate of 3-4% every year. According to this projection, India might be consuming roughly 7 million barrels per day in ten years. India bought 212.2 million tonnes of crude oil in 2021–22, up from 196.5 million tonnes in the previous year, according to the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC). According to PPAC, India produced 2.50 million metric tonnes (MMT) of crude oil in total in 2023, up 2.1% over the same time the previous year.

Challenges and opportunities on the horizon

India’s heavy reliance on imported crude oil, which constitutes more than 85% of its energy requirements, presents a complex web of economic and environmental challenges. The financial strain of oil imports weighs heavily on the nation’s economy, while the environmental toll of fossil fuel consumption exacerbates air pollution and contributes to the growing menace of climate change.

Furthermore, the unfulfilled promise made by developed nations to provide $100 billion annually to combat climate change underscores the pressing need for proactive action on a global scale. Enter the Global Biofuels Alliance (GBA), a promising initiative with the potential to address these challenges head-on.

However, the path forward for the GBA is not without its obstacles. As it seeks to facilitate the adoption of sustainable biofuels, several challenges loom on the horizon:


  1. Technology Transfer Concerns: The transfer of advanced biofuel technology, particularly from the United States, may encounter resistance due to fears related to technological secrecy. Protecting intellectual property while promoting international cooperation will be a delicate balancing act.


  1. Geopolitical Contestation: Geopolitical tensions, especially with major players like China and Russia, could complicate efforts to expand the alliance’s membership. Striking a harmonious chord amid global power dynamics is a formidable task.


  1. Funding Mechanism: Establishing a sustainable funding mechanism for the GBA is essential to support its initiatives effectively. Ensuring that financial resources are both adequate and reliable will be a critical endeavor.


  1. Import Restrictions: Addressing import restrictions on biofuels is crucial for facilitating international trade in sustainable bioenergy. Overcoming trade barriers will be essential to achieving the alliance’s objectives.


  1. Environmental Sustainability: The GBA must navigate environmental concerns related to biofuel production, including issues such as water usage and land allocation. Ensuring that biofuel production remains environmentally sustainable is paramount to the alliance’s long-term viability.


Cause and Effects:

Import Dependency: India’s high import dependency for oil makes its energy security vulnerable to international market fluctuations and geopolitical tensions.

Environmental Impact: The consumption of fossil fuels leads to increased greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, and health hazards.

Economic Strain: Importing oil drains significant financial resources, impacting the nation’s economy and trade balance.

Sugar Stocks Surge as Global Biofuel Alliance Takes Root : The launch of the Global Biofuel Alliance (GBA) by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the G20 Summit has triggered a remarkable surge in India’s sugar stocks, with all major players except Ugar Sugar Works Ltd experiencing substantial gains. As India endeavors to reduce its dependence on imported oil and combat climate change, the GBA’s promotion of sustainable biofuels and the ambitious target of blending 20% ethanol with petrol have fueled optimism in the sugar industry. Several sugar stocks have reached new 52-week highs, reflecting the positive sentiment, and technical analysis suggests that this upward trajectory may persist in the near term, making sugar stocks a potential market outperformer.


Biofuels: A sustainable trifecta for India

Biofuels present a unique solution to India’s environmental, economic, and empowerment challenges. The formation of the Global Biofuels Alliance marks a new era in the quest for sustainable energy. Nations worldwide are uniting to support biofuels due to their crucial role in curbing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change. This alliance offers India an opportunity to reduce costly imports, enhance energy security, and foster economic growth. Through technology transfers and domestic biofuel production, the GBA can significantly aid India in cutting its oil import expenses. Additionally, cost-effective biofuel production can transform the industry, making it more attractive to investors.

How will it benefit India ?

The Global Biofuels Alliance launch is highly advantageous for India. As a nation heavily reliant on oil imports (accounting for over 85% of its crude oil needs), this alliance provides a strategic opportunity to ease the financial burden of oil imports and bolster energy security. Moreover, it aligns with India’s ambitious target of achieving carbon neutrality by 2070, underlining its commitment to sustainability and climate action. India’s goal of blending 20% ethanol sourced from domestic materials like sugarcane and agricultural waste with petrol by 2025 not only reduces fossil fuel dependence but also improves air quality and job prospects. The alliance’s support for existing biofuel programs, such as SATAT and the Gobardhan scheme, benefits farmers, generate employment and drives overall economic growth. India’s active participation in the growing global ethanol market positions it as a key player, offering both economic and environmental advantages.

In the journey ahead, India should:

Boost Domestic Production: Invest in research and offer incentives to increase biofuel production from sources like sugarcane and agricultural waste.

Promote Flex-Fuel Vehicles: Encourage the production and adoption of flex-fuel vehicles capable of using higher ethanol blends.

Geopolitical Diplomacy: Address geopolitical challenges as the alliance expands, focusing on garnering support and addressing concerns.

Sustainable Funding: Establish a sustainable funding mechanism through contributions from member nations, international organizations, and industry stakeholders.

Environmental Sustainability: Prioritize eco-friendly practices, addressing challenges like water usage and land allocation in biofuel production.

Raise Awareness: Conduct public awareness campaigns to highlight biofuels’ benefits and encourage responsible choices.

Monitoring and Evaluation: Implement transparent reporting mechanisms to track progress, biofuel industry growth, and contributions to energy security and environmental goals.

These steps will solidify India’s leadership in sustainable biofuels, reduce fossil fuel dependence, and address environmental challenges.

In conclusion,

Biofuel production may become a more affordable alternative to fossil fuels if economies of scale are realized, promoting a greener and more sustainable energy landscape. In essence, the formation of the Global Biofuels Alliance marks a significant advancement toward a future with more sustainable energy sources.

In addition to a cleaner and more diverse energy portfolio, India’s leadership in this coalition also promises economic prospects, environmental advantages, and energy security. India positions itself at the vanguard of a global shift toward cleaner, more sustainable energy sources as biofuels gain popularity.


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