To become a significant player in use and promotion of Bio-Diesel as a viable alternative to Petro-Diesel and to catalyse investment and R&D in the country by introducing up to 20% bio-diesel in rail-traction by the year 2017.
Bio-Diesel is a thrust area in finding solutions to the problems of Global Warming. Green House Gases (GHG) emitted by petroleum fuels are a matter of concern and governments worldwide have taken steps to introduce bio-diesels in varying measures as a substitute of fossil fuels.
Government of India’s Policy
The national policy has set a target of 20% by 2017 for blending of bio-diesel and bio-ethanol. The Government of India is also setting up a National Mission on Bio-Diesel to promote production and use of this green fuel.
Indian Railways - Status
Indian Railways (IR) have a fleet of nearly 4500 diesel locomotives and growing rapidly. The annual consumption of high speed diesel is approximately 2.5 billion litres, nearly one-tenth of the national consumption. This makes IR the single largest buyer and user of high speed diesel. The onus on IR, therefore, as a driver in induction of bio-diesel in transportation is higher than on any other entity.
Suitability of bio-diesel has been adequately established with up to 20% substitution (B20) on engine test beds of RDSO. There is no adverse impact on engine components and no significant penalty in engine power.
Production of bio-diesel involves trans-esterification of vegetable oils and animal fats in a processing plant. Technology and process is well established. Source of oils are typically plantations of Jatropha, Pongamia, raw fish oil, waste/used cooking oil etc.
There is an emerging trend in this field to adapt to third generation bio-diesel, which use lignocellulosic material and micro algae as sources. These use very little land, but are relatively hi-tech.State of the Industry
Though several large and small bio-diesel plants have been set-up in India in the private sector, many of them have either shut down or are running below capacity. Due to lack of incentives, bio-diesel produced in India is not priced competitively against petroleum diesel. Many of the plants are surviving on the strength of export market.
With an annual consumption of 2.5 billion liters of high-speed diesel, a 20% blend will create a demand of up to 500 million litres of bio-fuel on diesel locomotives alone. This has the potential to spur the bio-diesel industry in India to unprecedented levels of activities. Unlike the fragmented ownership of the fleets of buses and trucks, IR presents itself as a single user of nearly 4500 diesel locomotives. Even with a numerically small fleet the IR has the potential of not only becoming a major influencing factor in driving the usage, investments and technology pertaining to bio-diesel.This is possible because this fleet is owned by a common management governed by common policy.
IROAF, as the nodal agency, will formulate policies and execute specific projects to achieve this.