The Global Biofuels Alliance (GBA) was formally launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the presence of leaders of a number of partner countries on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in New Delhi on September 09, 2023. The GBA has been in the works for some time now and is a key initiative and priority under India’s G20 presidency. The alliance is aimed at facilitating international cooperation and intensifying the use of sustainable biofuels, along with facilitating global biofuels trade and technical support for national biofuel programmes.
In February, 2023 the government had announced that Brazil, India, and the US, as leading biofuel producers and consumers, will work together with other interested countries and agencies to develop the GBA. The alliance will work in collaboration with relevant existing regional and international agencies as well as initiatives in the bioenergy, bio-economy, and energy transition fields. The US and Brazil are seen as global leaders in biofuels and account for 52 per cent and 30 per cent of global ethanol production, respectively.
Biofuels, that is, ethanol and bio-diesel, substitutes for petrol and diesel, have gained good traction in the world grappling to find answers for high prices and environmental unsuitability of the hydro-carbons. India has primarily focused on ethanol.
Biofuels, as a renewable energy source derived from plant and animal materials, play a critical role in progressing towards zero and low-emission development strategies. They symbolise a significant leap towards a greener and more sustainable future. They not only offer a viable alternative to non-renewable energy sources but also contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, conserving biodiversity, and promoting rural development and job creation. Therefore, the global recognition of the importance of sustainable biofuels cannot be overemphasized.
The increasing concern about climate change, coupled with the incessant need for alternative sources of energy, amplify the relevance of biofuels. However, for biofuels to make a more significant impact on a global scale, they need to be sustainable. Sustainable biofuels are produced via innovative and environmentally friendly methods that do not negatively impact food security or biodiversity.
The Global Biofuel Alliance (GBA) is an initiative by India as the G20 Chair. The Alliance intends to expedite the global uptake of biofuels through facilitating technology advancements, intensifying utilization of sustainable biofuels, shaping robust standard setting and certification through the participation of a wide spectrum of stakeholders. The alliance will also act as a central repository of knowledge and an expert hub. GBA aims to serve as a catalytic platform, fostering global collaboration for the advancement and widespread adoption of biofuels.
GBA is an India-led Initiative to develop an alliance of governments, International organizations and Industry to facilitate adoption of biofuels. Bringing together the biggest consumers and producers of biofuels to drive biofuels development and deployment, the initiative aims to position biofuels as a key to energy transition and contribute to jobs and economic growth.
The visionary Global Biofuels Alliance supported by G20 Nations & energy related global organisations like International Energy Agency (IEA), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), World Economic Forum (WEO), and World LPG Association among others will strengthen global biofuels trade & best practices allowing the members to successfully face the Energy Quadrilemma.
GBA will support worldwide development and deployment of sustainable biofuels by offering capacity-building exercises across the value chain, technical support for national programs and promoting policy lessons-sharing. It will facilitate mobilizing a virtual marketplace to assist industries, countries, ecosystem players and key stakeholders in mapping demand and supply, as well as connecting technology providers to end users. It will also facilitate development, adoption and implementation of internationally recognized standards, codes, sustainability principles and regulations to incentivize biofuels adoption and trade.
The initiative will be beneficial for India at multiple fronts. GBA as a tangible outcome of the G20 presidency, will help strengthen India’s position globally. Moreover, the alliance will focus on collaboration and will provide additional opportunities to Indian industries in the form of exporting technology and exporting equipment. It will help accelerate India’s existing biofuels programs such as PM-JIVANYojna, SATAT, and GOBARdhan scheme, thereby contributing to increased farmers’ income, creating jobs and overall development of the Indian ecosystem.
The global ethanol market was valued at USD 99.06 billion in 2022 and is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 5.1% by 2032 and surpass USD 162.12 billion by 2032. As per IEA, there will be 3.5-5x biofuels growth potential by 2050 due to Net Zero targets, creating a huge opportunity for India.
A total of 19 countries and 12 international organizations have so far agreed to join the alliance, including both G20 members and non-member countries. India, Brazil and the US are the founding members of the alliance and other G20 member countries supporting the initiative are Argentina, Canada, Italy, and South Africa. Bangladesh, Singapore, Mauritius, and the UAE are the G20 invitee countries.
The G20 Leaders' Declaration released on September 09, 2023has said that the member countries "recognize the importance of sustainable biofuels in our zero and low- emission development strategies, and note the setting up of a Global Biofuels Alliance".
For India, which is the world’s third-largest consumer of crude oil and depends on imports to meet over 85 per cent of its requirement of the commodity, increasing the use of biofuels is a key tool towards two ends–reducing dependency on energy imports and limiting the carbon footprint of the country’s rapidly growing energy use.
Underscoring the need of a global biofuels body, union petroleum minister Hardeep Singh Puri had earlier said that while sustainable biofuels have huge potential, there are a number of hurdles as well, including feedstock supply issues, technological limitations, policy framework, and financing and investment.
The outcome document post the final G20 Energy Transitions Ministers’ meeting held at Goa in July, 2023 had said that member-countries recognize the potential opportunity of working together for further deployment and development of sustainable biofuels as one of the strategies for advancing the energy transition.
Being set up at par with the International Solar Alliance, the biofuel alliance’s focus is on accelerated adoption of biofuels, creating new biofuels, setting globally recognized standards, identifying global best practices, and ensuring industry participation.
(The author is a freelance columnist and can be mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @haniefmha)
Box: Being set up at par with the International Solar Alliance, the biofuel alliance’s focus is on accelerated adoption of biofuels, creating new biofuels, setting globally recognized standards, identifying global best practices, and ensuring industry participation