Alternative feedstock for ethanol production key to value maximisation

The topic of Session – III was ‘Sustainable Synergy: Value Maximisation in the Sugar & Ethanol Industry’. The panellists were-

Mr. Abinash Verma, Ethanol expert, Public Policy Expert, Former Bureaucrat, Former DG- ISMA, Promoter- Grain Based Ethanol Plant
Mr. Narendra Mohan, Director, National Sugar Institute (Kanpur)
Mr. Prashant Dixit – Regreen Excel
Mr. Prasad Ghawate – CEO, Rajganga Biorefineries Pvt. Ltd.
Mr. R. K. Gangwar- Executive Director (Operations), Mawana Sugars Ltd.
Ms. Arushi Jain- Joint Secretary.. of Grain Ethanol Manufacturers Association (GEMA)

The session was moderated by Mr. Anish De – Partner KPMG

Abinash Verma said that 20% average ethanol blending by 2025-26 looks very difficult. He said that only 25% of vehicles can be E-20 compliant. Therefore, user demand for ethanol can’t be more than 15%. He said that the only way forward is to quickly roll out FFVs. The ethanol plants need more support to grow and OMCs need to have stable policies. There is a need to create public awareness and consumer education about ethanol and FFVs. Otherwise, achieving 20% ethanol blending seems very difficult.

Narendra Mohan, Director, National Sugar Institute (Kanpur) said that the biggest challenge that sugar mills are facing vis-à-vis ethanol production is less availability of feedstocks. The Government is promoting ethanol production from Maize, which is the need of the hour. He said that the country needs better sugarcane varieties for more sugar production so that more sugar could be diverted for ethanol production. Productivity is important. There is a need to develop other feedstocks too, and food products should be blended with DDGs. It is being done in other countries, and India can take lessons on this. Holistically there is a need to improve productivity of ethanol, develop alternate feedstocks for ethanol production, which doesn’t compete with food, and then look at improving efficiency of units.

R. K. Gangwar of Mawana Sugars said that uneven monsoon rains is an important factor due to which you have deficit sugar production. This has to be addressed. There is a need to look at measures to mitigate drought. There is demand for sugar, which is positive for the industry. Modernisation is the key that the industry needs to focus on.

Arushi Jain of Grain Ethanol Manufacturers Association (GEMA) said that foodgrain farmers have gained some attention, thanks to ethanol production for foodgrains. The first beneficiary of Maize pricing is the farmers, which is really good. When he receives remunerative pricing, he will produce more, so we are expecting higher maize production. Some intervention is required on supply chain perspective.
Infrastructure development has to be extended to the supply chain.

Mr. Prasad Ghawate – CEO, Rajganga Biorefineries Pvt. Ltd. said that ethanol-based chemicals can be good value additions for ethanol. There should be alternative to ethanol, like there are many green chemicals. It would create more sustainability. We should have 70% focus on ethanol and 30% focus on green chemicals derived from ethanol.

Mr. Prashant Dixit of Regreen Excel said that the company is encouraging sugar mills to have grain to ethanol mills as well, in case there are some policy interventions. The company is developing new technologies to have value additions.


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