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  • Go straight to Euro IV says TERI’s alternative auto fuel policy

    India should introduce Euro IV fuel or ultra-low sulphur diesel (ULSD) as a transport fuel at the earliest if the government is serious about addressing environmental concerns, instead of waiting till 2010 as planned, recommends an unprecedented new report.

    Titled ‘Fuel Choices for Transport and the Environment’, the report was prepared by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), Delhi, after it conducted comparative tests on BEST (public transport) buses in Mumbai, for 15 months over 40,000 km, using compressed natural gas (CNG) and ultra-low sulphur diesel. It also factored in the economic cost of supplying compressed natural gas (CNG) and ULSD.

    The study found that Euro IV diesel is as environmentally friendly as CNG is, when supplied to the existing fleet of buses fitted with particulate traps. It also found that it is easier to supply ULSD with the existing infrastructure. Therefore, polluted cities in the country (besides the metros) need not wait for CNG if they can immediately fast-track to Euro IV fuel.

    Since the infrastructure for natural gas imports is still being developed, CNG is primarily a long-term option for widespread use in transportation. ULSD, on the other hand, can be supplied through the existing liquid fuel supply infrastructure with minimal investment, though the problem of adulteration will have to be addressed in case multiple grades of diesel are available at the same time.

    ULSD, or Euro IV fuel, is diesel with a sulphur content of 50 ppm (parts per million). Currently, the fuel available in the four metros is Euro II, or 500 ppm sulphur.

    At present, Euro IV fuel (the kind already in use all over Europe, the US and Hong Kong) is scheduled to be introduced in India only by 2010. According to the roadmap drawn up by the Mashelkar committee, the metros will get Euro III by 2005. The government will review the situation in 2006 to ascertain whether to introduce Euro IV norms in 2010. Meanwhile, Euro IV norms will be enforced in Europe from 2005.

    The progressive reduction of sulphur in diesel by itself, without using a diesel oxidation catalyst, reduces emissions of particulate matter: using a 350 ppm sulphur grade reduces them by 26% and using 50 ppm maximum sulphur grade reduces them another 19%.

    Further significant reductions (about 97%) are possible if the 50 ppm grade is combined with an appropriate particle filter as an emission control device in the tailpipe of the exhaust.

    Three refineries of the government-owned Indian Oil Corporation and one owned by Reliance Industries are reportedly willing to supply Euro IV diesel. It’s unclear, therefore, why the government is reluctant to mandate them to do so.

    India’s oil refineries will have to spend Rs 20,000 crore for upgradation to meet Euro IV norms. It’s widely believed, however, that it is easier to go to Euro IV directly than stagger it and go to Euro III first. “It is in the interest of the country that Euro IV is brought in as soon as possible. The oil companies are government monopolies with no competition, hence there is an unwillingness to change,” says R K Pachauri, director, TERI.

    Bhure Lal, who headed the panel that led Delhi to CNG, backed the call to leapfrog to Euro IV saying: “We have always been asking for it. (But) the biggest problem is that of adulteration with liquid fuels, which this report does not address.” Adulteration of diesel with kerosene is rampant in India, leading to high pollution levels. “The trick is to let the government remove the price differential between kerosene and diesel that they have been promising. Adulteration will stop automatically,” says P Sunder, a member of TERI.

    Brought out in collaboration with the department of transport, UK, the study also involved the Automotive Research Association of India, Pune, the Indian Oil Corporation and BEST, Mumbai. It was released on February 10, 2004, in New Delhi by the deputy head of the Planning Commission, K C Pant, who sought a proper policy framework to cope with increasing transport services and its impact on the environment, with a focus on health. The National Fuel Policy should be directed towards ensuring a sufficient, reliable and economical fuel supply to support economic and social development, he said.

    Source: The Indian Express

    February 12, 2004

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