NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India aims to increase the use of biofuels to cut its oil import bill by 120 billion rupees ($1.7 billion) by 2022 and reduce carbon emissions, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday.
India is the world’s third-biggest oil importer and consumer and ships in about 80 percent of its crude needs, but is gradually building capacity to increase its output of biofuels.
The South Asian nation plans to build 12 bio-refineries costing 100 billion rupees to produce fuel from items including crop stubble, plant waste and municipal solid waste, Modi said.
“Biofuels can help reduce import dependency on crude oil. They can contribute to a cleaner environment, generate additional income for farmers and rural employment,” he said at an event in New Delhi to celebrate World Biofuel Day.
Modi, who faces elections next year, said building the bio-fuel refineries would create 150,000 new jobs, but did not give a timeframe for when they would all be up and running.
India, a signatory to the Paris Climate deal, plans to reduce its carbon footprint by increasing ethanol content, a sugar byproduct, in its gasoline to 10 percent by 2022 and to 20 percent by 2030, Modi said.
Supplies of ethanol to fuel retailers have jumped to about 1.41 billion litres in the current sugar year, which ends in September, from about 380 million litres in 2013/14, helping the nation cut energy imports by 40 billion rupees, he said.
India aims to ramp up ethanol production to 4.5 billion litres in the next four years, a move that could cut the country’s gasoline consumption.
Use of gasoline in India has been growing rapidly as millions more households buy motor cars and motor cycles due to rising income levels and cheaper credit.
($1 = 68.9575 Indian rupees)
Reporting by Nidhi Verma; Editing by Malini Menon and Susan Fenton