In May of this year, the Indian government cleared the national biofuel policy.
Low-budget airline, SpiceJet, will test India’s first biofuel-powered flight in Dehradun. With this, India will be the first among developing countries to do so and will join select few countries, including the US, Canada, and Australia, which have flown biofuel-operated aircraft.
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“India’s first flight powered by biofuel to take off today. A significant boost to encourage alternative fuels…The initiative is a huge step towards encouraging sustainable and alternative fuels for the transportation & aviation sector as envisaged in national biofuel policy,” said oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Twitter.
The biofuel being used for demonstration has been developed by Indian Institute of Petroleum, Dehradun. If the test is successful, SpiceJet aircraft will operate a flight to Delhi, said media reports.
The move to use biofuel as an alternative fuel comes at a time when the domestic airlines are struggling to stay afloat as costly turbine fuel has strained their finances. ET now reported citing sources that the objective of using biofuel-powered aircraft is to make air travel cheaper and also to bring some respite to the local carriers.
In May this year, Indian government cleared the national biofuel policy, as it looks at exploring various options, including focusing on biofuel, to cut down its dependence on import for energy requirement and also to bring down the cost of crude oil import.
At present, India is the third largest oil consumer in the world and almost 80% of its crude oil needs are met with imports. In the last financial year, a total of $88 billion were spent on import of crude oil only.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also said on the occasion of World Biofuel Day 2018 that the government is targeting to promote the use of biofuel in a major way so as to reduce the crude oil import bill by Rs 12,000 crore over the next four years.
In 2010, Kingfisher Airlines, which no longer operates, had also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Anna University in Chennai for a joint research collaboration programme to explore alternative energy sources like biofuel.