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India Sees Surge in Ethanol Production from Maize and Rice, Shifts from Sugar

India has reportedly seen a rise in ethanol production from grains like maize, surpassing that from sugar, as part of the government’s shift away from sugar-based ethanol production. According to sources familiar with the data, the proportion of ethanol derived from grains has reached 51% for the period from November 2023 to October 2024, up […]

India has reportedly seen a rise in ethanol production from grains like maize, surpassing that from sugar, as part of the government’s shift away from sugar-based ethanol production. According to sources familiar with the data, the proportion of ethanol derived from grains has reached 51% for the period from November 2023 to October 2024, up from 37.4% in the previous year.

As of June 9, India’s total ethanol production stood at 357.12 crore litres, with 175.74 crore litres from sugar and 181.38 crore litres from grains. Maize alone contributed 110.82 crore litres, with additional quantities sourced from damaged foodgrain and surplus rice managed by the Food Corporation of India, according to sources.

The government aims to achieve a 20% ethanol blend in petrol by 2025-26, with current blending rates at 12.7% against a 15% target for this year. This move is aimed at reducing India’s reliance on imported crude oil.

The government’s policy shift away from sugar-based ethanol is primarily driven by concerns over sugarcane’s high water consumption. According to reports, cultivating one acre of sugarcane, yielding 60-80 tonnes, requires approximately nine lakh litres of water bi-monthly on average.

Meeting the ethanol blending target for 2025 would necessitate significant additional resources—1320 million tons of sugarcane, 19 million hectares of land, and 348 billion cubic metres of water, according to estimates from Mongabay-India and NITI Aayog.

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