1. Agriculture World

Solar Recharging of Electric Vehicles is More Effective Use of Land than Ethanol Crops

Notably, India has set a target of blending 20% ethanol into gasoline by 2025. According to the report, this will necessitate the doubling of ethanol from sugar and the quadrupling of ethanol from grains in just four years.

Shivam Dwivedi
Solar Recharging of Electric Vehicles
Solar Recharging of Electric Vehicles

According to a new report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), producing solar energy to recharge electric vehicle (EV) batteries would be a far more efficient use of land than growing crops for ethanol. Notably, India has set a target of blending 20% ethanol into gasoline by 2025. According to the report, this will necessitate the doubling of ethanol from sugar and the quadrupling of ethanol from grains in just four years.

"While surpluses may be sufficient for the component of new ethanol earmarked for sugar," IEEFA said, "up to 30,000 square kilometres of land may be required for the additional ethanol planned for grains (maize)."

Findings of Report:

According to the report, to match the distance driven by EVs recharged from one hectare of solar generation, ethanol derived from up to 251 hectares of sugar cane or 187 hectares of maize would be required -even after accounting for losses from electricity transmission, battery charging, and grid storage.

According to the report, increasing EV adoption could meet many of the goals outlined in India's Roadmap for Ethanol Blending – reducing emissions and air pollution, supporting domestic agricultural demand, and reducing the drain on India's foreign exchange by limiting oil imports – while using a fraction of the land.

"This large-scale diversion of agricultural land for ethanol blending contradicts other key priorities for food production, water use, and renewable energy adoption," writes report author and guest contributor Dr Charles Worringham.

"While the government's promotion of ethanol blending in gasoline may appear to alleviate the burden of soaring crude oil prices, it actually adds to the pressure on agricultural land at a time when the war in Ukraine threatens the world's grain supply." This increases the competition between energy and food and significantly raises the stakes for wise land use in India.

"Although Russia accounts for 11% of global oil exports, Russia and Ukraine account for 26% of wheat exports and 16% of corn exports." In the end, if the food supply is stressed, food takes precedence over energy for claims on arable land."

The recent IPCC Working Group II report, which emphasizes the critical importance of wise land use in India, has reinforced future threats to agricultural production in South Asia. "A re-evaluation of the ethanol-blending policy and alternatives is urgently required, given that its targets have been pushed back to 2025 from 2030," Worringham says.

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