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EU-India Deliberate On Sustainable Biofuels For Aviation And Maritime Transport 

By Outlook Planet Desk August 23, 2023

As the temperature rise leads to adverse effects on health and livelihoods the need to transition to sustainable fuel alternatives from agricultural and urban waste is pivotal, especially for the aviation and maritime transport sectors 

EU-India Deliberate On Sustainable Biofuels For Aviation And Maritime Transport 
Decarbonising the aviation and maritime sectors requires social transformation on an unprecedented scale. Shutterstock
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The workshop to develop the roadmap for EU-India Collaboration on sustainable biofuels for aviation and maritime transport, hosted by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), in collaboration with the European Union delegation to India focussed on the need to shift to sustainably derived biofuels is urgent given the energy situation worldwide and adverse climate change impacts.

It was noted that as the temperature rise leads to adverse effects on health and livelihoods the need to transition to sustainable fuel alternatives from agricultural and urban waste is pivotal, especially for the aviation and maritime transport sectors. In addition, these are among the most difficult sectors to decarbonise as a result they have been late in the adoption of low-carbon or renewable-fuel solutions.

Dr Vibha Dhawan, Director General, TERI stressed unless we take care of energy transition development will be hindered. This was what TERI’s founders believed when they set up the organisation five decades ago. Today too, TERI continues to take their vision for sustainable development forward. Energy remains a prime focus of TERI’s work.

As aviation and maritime traffic grows, their emissions will also increase, forcing countries to transition to cleaner and sustainable alternate fuels such as biofuels, noted Dhawan.

Pierrick Fillon-Ashida, First Counselor at the Delegation of the European Union to India, and responsible for cooperation and education spoke of the need to combine forces by bringing together people from different sectors to make progress in scaling up the adoption of sustainable biofuels through measures in training, capacity building, carbon reporting, finance, and other domains. Biofuels derived from food-crops, or grown on deforested land are not considered sustainable, because of the negative impact their production might have on food production systems, on biodiversity, and on the ability of natural habits to capture carbon. On the other hand, fuels derived from agricultural and urban waste may be considered sustainable, provided they are properly monitored and certified.

In May 2023 the European Commission launched the project for support for the development of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) under the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Capacity-building and Training for Sustainable Aviation Fuels programme (ACT-SAF). In addition, in line with the European Green Deal commitment to help partner countries decarbonise, the project will support India towards increasing SAF production, feasibility studies and assistance with the certification of these fuels.

Speaking about the EU-India Biofuels roadmap and stressing the four main areas for action (financial innovation, ESG and carbon reporting, circular bio-economy and social transformation) needed to accelerate progress on the scaling of biofuel production, Dr Patrick Crehan of CKA Brussels, highlighted that the entire geography of fuel production is changing both nationally and globally on a massive scale.

Decarbonising the aviation and maritime sectors requires social transformation on an unprecedented scale. It is not just a question of substituting fossil fuels with renewable substitutes. It is a question of totally reinventing the energy system and ending up with something that has the power to transform society at every level.

Sourabh Mukherjee, executive vice president of TATA Projects Ltd, India noted that one of the biggest challenges that he sees for the decarbonisation of air travel is the availability of sustainable aviation fuel. We need to increase collaborations and build the technologies and enhancements into the existing structures and supply chains. We need to build ecosystems where from the time is developed, even at the inception stage, we start looking at constructability. All of this needs digitalisation.

Expanding on the calls under Mission Innovation, and the upcoming bilateral calls between EU and India, Dr Sangita Kasture, Head - Energy, Environment & Forest Decision Unit, Department of Biotechnology (DBT) India explained that the goal is to develop and demonstrate innovative solutions to accelerate the commercialisation of integrated biorefineries, with a target of replacing 10% of fossil-fuel based fuels, chemicals, and materials with bio-based alternatives.

Delivering a presentation at the workshop, Shekhar Kulkarni, Director, Centre for High Technology (CHT) Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoP&NG), Government of India stressed that it is indeed the right time to focus on biofuels, especially 2G Ethanol derived from agricultural waste.

Giving an overview of green fuels in maritime transport Dr Piyali Das, Senior Fellow, TERI explained that for inland and coastal shipping, the drop-in fuel along with electric hybrid seems the most promising and immediate solution.

She further emphasised the need for investment to drive the development and adoption of green fuel in the coming decade. For international shipping, to comply with IMO guidelines and to remain on the transition pathway, India has great collaboration opportunities especially for green methanol and other hydrogen derivative fuels, technology adoption for green fuel handling, bunkering, storage and developing regulatory aspects. She added that there is also a need for multi-sectoral and multi-ministerial collaboration to scale up the development of SAF and sustainable fuels for marine and road transport applications.

The two-day workshop saw stakeholders across sectors engage in breakout sessions on feedstock production; ESG, CO2, and natural capital reporting; circular bio-economy; and social transformation to deliberate and discuss how the roadmap can be enriched by searching for possible solutions to the challenges posed by sustainable biofuels in mainstreaming it for aviation and maritime transportation. 

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