Talks on second-generation ethanol, coal-based urea

In a move that could ease the government's subsidy outgo of Rs 45,000 crore on urea, the ministry of road transport and highways has initiated talks with the ministries of power, coal, petroleum, and agriculture to formulate a coal-based urea policy. Sources said this coal-based urea would cost $60-75 per tonne as compared to $160 per tonne for natural gas-based urea. Coal production is surplus in the country and that additional fuel can be used for producing urea.

The road ministry has proposed another policy for using resources other than molasses for producing ethanol, since there is a shortage of molasses. Ministries of renewable energy and science and technology will find a way to produce second-genration ethanol from biomass, bamboo, rice straw, wheat straw, and cotton straw, among others, to power vehicles.

Ethanol production could cut the country's crude oil import bill of about Rs 7 lakh crore per year.

This method is used in countries like China, South Africa, Spain etc for producing ethanol.

Making ethanol from bamboo in the north-east can also create employment opportunities in the region.

The proposal, once formulated in consultation ministries of petroleum, agriculture, science and technology, will go to the Cabinet for its approval,

According to the official the proposal may go to the Cabinet as early as by the end of this month.

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