With India being energy deficient, there is a need for the country to diversify agriculture into energy and power sectors, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari said on Saturday.
“We already have an energy shortage. We are making an expenditure of Rs 15 lakh crore every year for importing petrol, diesel and other petroleum products. So, this is the time we can diversify agriculture towards the energy and power sector,” Gadkari said while addressing the felicitation programme of National Cogeneration Awards 2022 in Mumbai.
He urged the industry to focus on alternative fuels with the help of futuristic technologies.
“While 65-70 per cent of our population depends on agriculture, our agricultural growth rate is only 12-13 per cent. And the next move should be cogeneration to increase revenue from sugar.
The industry should produce less sugar and more byproducts, embracing the vision for futuristic technologies and using the power of leadership to convert knowledge into wealth. This will enable the farmers to become not only food growers but energy producers as well,” he added.
The minister further said that the country’s requirement for sugar was 280 lakh tonnes this year, while the production was more than 360 lakh tonnes.
“However, we need to divert production towards ethanol as the ethanol requirement is very high. Last year’s capacity was 400 crore litres of ethanol and the government has taken a lot of initiatives to increase ethanol production. Now is the time for the industry to plan demand for ethanol, using technologies such as power generators run by bioethanol,” he noted.
Gadkari told the industry that the government has decided to launch flex fuel engines in the country. “Bajaj, Hero and TVS are already making flex engines, many car manufacturers too have promised to launch their models on flex engines,” he added.
The minister informed that even auto-rickshaws can be run on bio-ethanol, in the construction equipment industry too, alternative fuels can be used.
“Germany has proven technology to run trains on bio-ethanol. A highly purified version of ethanol can also be used in the aviation industry, the aeronautical sector is doing research on how this can be done,” he added.
Bio-CNG is way cheaper than CNG and can be made from rice straw and even from organic municipal waste, making it economically attractive, Gadkari added.
The minister stated that there is a scope of using harvesting technologies for cutting of sugarcane.
“Harvesting machines can use ethanol as a fuel, making the circular economy possible,” he added.