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Daily Current Affairs – 2020

Topic: For Prelims and Mains

Ethanol Blending

21st Aug 2020

Why in news?

The government has set targets of 10% bioethanol blending of petrol by 2022 and to raise it to 20% by 2030 under the ethanol blending programme.

1G and 2G bioethanol plants will play a key role in making bio-ethanol available for blending.

Aim:

  • To curb carbon emissionsand reduce India’s dependence on imported crude oil.

What is Ethanol Blending?

  • Ethanol blending is the practice of blending petrol with ethanol.
  • The process is adopted to reduce vehicle exhaust emissions.
  • It also reduces import burdenon account of crude petroleum from which petrol is produced.

What are 1G and 2G biofuel plants?

1G bioethanol plants utilise sugarcane juice and molasses, byproducts in production of sugar, as raw material to produce bioethanol.

  • 2G plants utilise surplus biomassand agricultural waste to produce bioethanol.
  • Domestic production of bioethanol at present, is not sufficient to meet demand for bio-ethanol for blendingwith petrol at Indian Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs).
  • Sugar mills- the key domestic suppliers of bio-ethanol to OMCs, were only able to supply 1.9 billion litres of bio-ethanol to OMCs.
  • This equated to 57.6%of the total demand of 3.3 billion litres.

 Reasons demand is not met:

  • Many sugar mills do not have the financial stability to invest in biofuel plants.
  • There are also concerns among investors on the uncertainty of price of bio-ethanolin future.
  • Further, the sugar sector has its own balance sheet issues.
  • The sugar mills pay high prices for sugarcane set by the government.
  • The prices of both sugarcane and bio-ethanol are set by the central government.
  • The price of obtaining agricultural wasterequired for production of bio-ethanol at 2G plants was currently too high for it to be viable for private investors in the country.

Way Forward:

  • The state governments need to set up depots where farmers could drop their agricultural waste.
  • The Central government should fix a price for agricultural waste to make investments in 2G bioethanol production an attractive proposition.

Benefits:

  • 2G ethanol is a clean source of energy.
  • It helps to provide greater income to farmers.
  • Prevent them from burning agricultural waste (major source of air pollution).

 

The First World Solar Technology Summit

Topic: For Prelims and Mains

Why in news?

The First World Solar Technology Summit will be organized by International Solar Alliance virtually on September 08, 2020.

Objective:

  • To bring spotlight on state-of-the-art technologiesand next-generation technologies to provide impetus to harness solar energy more efficiently.

International Solar Alliance:

  • ISA is an initiative jointly launched by India and France in 2015 at Paris on the sidelines of COP21 UN Climate Change Conference.
  • It is a treaty-based international organization and an alliance of 121 solar resource-rich countries.
  • Presently 83 countries have signed ISA framework agreement and 58 countries have ratified the ISA agreement.
  • Headquarters:National Institute of Solar Energy(NISE), Gurugram,

Aim:

  • To undertake joint efforts required to reduce the cost of financeand cost of technology.
  • To facilitate deployment of over 1,000 GW of solar energyand mobilize more than USD 1,000 billion into solar power by 2030 in Member countries.

Achievements:

  • Till date, ISA has aggregated a pipeline of solar projects worth USD 5.5 Billionand working to facilitate financing of solar projects in member countries.
  • The World Bank and French Development Agencyare developing a Solar Risk Mitigation Facility for this purpose.
  • Presently there are 6 Programmes of ISAto develop Solar capacities in Member Countries which include Agricultural Pumps, Mini grids, Rooftop Solar, Large Scale Grid connected Projects etc.

Who can join International Solar Alliance?

  • Must be a Solar resource-rich state which lies fully or partially between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.
  • Must be a member of the United Nations

 Funding from India:

  • India will contribute Rs. 160 crores to the ISA over 5-year duration from 2016-17 to 2020-21.
  • India will release additional  15 croresin the year 2020-21.

Key facts:

  • At the United Nations Climate Action Summit 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged to increase renewable energy capacity to 175 GW by 2022 and committed to further increasing it to 450 GW.
  • Presently India stands among the top five countries of the worldin terms of solar energy capacity and total renewable energy capacity.

ARI-516: Hybrid variety of Grapes:

Why in News?

Scientists from Agharkar Research Institute (ARI), an autonomous institute of the Department of Science and Technology, have developed a hybrid variety of grapes which is resistant to fungal diseases, high yielding and has excellent juice quality.

ARI-516:

  • The hybrid variety ARI-516 has been developed by interbreeding of two speciesfrom the same genus — Catawba variety of Vitis labrusca and Beauty seedless variety of Vitis vinifera.
  • It has superior quality fruits and higher yield per unit area.
  • An early ripening hybrid, it matures in 110 – 120 days after pruning.
  • It is tolerant to downy & powdery mildew diseasesas well as resistant to anthracnose disease-a group of fungal diseases that affect a variety of plants in warm, humid areas.

Key facts:

  • India ranks twelfth in the world in terms of grape production.
  • About 78% of grape production in India is utilized for consumption, 17-20 % for raisin production, 1.5 % for wine and 0.5 % for juice.
  • Maharashtra leads in the production of grapes in Indiawith a share of 81.22 %.
  • A majority of farmers in Maharashtra cultivate ‘Thompson seedless’and its clones for table purpose or raisin making.
  • These varieties are highly susceptible to fungal diseaseswhich increase plant protection cost. Grapes suffer 8.23-16 % of post-harvest losses.
  • Juice making is an excellent option to reduce post-harvest losses.

Facts for Prelims:

 United Nations Recent Resolutions:

S/RES/2537 (2020) 28 July 2020 The situation in Cyrpus
S/RES/2536 (2020) 28 July 2020 The situation in the Central African Republic
S/RES/2535 (2020) 14 July 2020 Maintenance of international peace and security
S/RES/2534 (2020) 14 July 2020 The situation in the Middle East

 

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