Methanol Economy For India

A global shift has been observed in recent years to decouple one’s own economy from the vagaries of the petroleum sector. One such initiative is the concept of ‘methanol Economy” which has been actively pursued by nearly all developing and developed countries. India being a growing economy needs to mitigate the associated environmental hazards and to address this issue, NITI Aayog prepared a roadmap for full scale implementation of methanol economy in India.

Advantages of this Shift

  • Methanol is easily scalable and sustainable fuel, as it can be produced from variety of feedstocks
  • Methanol ensures near zero pollution as it produces no particulate matter, no soot and almost nil SOx and NOx emissions
  • Since methanol burns efficiently in all internal combustion engines it can replace both petrol & diesel in transportation
  • Promotes health of women and reduces household pollution by shift to smokeless chulha
  • Ideal substitute to shift towards Hybrid and Electric Mobility and ultimately “Hydrogen based fuel systems”
  • Shift to methanol requires minimal infrastructure modifications and capital in distribution infrastructure.
  • Revolutionize public transport, reduce import substitution while also addressing urban pollution
  • Makes the power sector viable again due to shift from HFO(Heavy Fuel Oil) to methanol as well as ensuring replacement of diesel industrial boilers

Methanol Cooking Fuel Program

The Namrup-based Assam Petrochemicals Limited rolled out India’s first cannister based “Methanol-based cooking fuel Program” which is cheaper than conventional LPG fuel and would meet the energy demands of North East India. The project is a natural extension of India’s vision to reduce import of crude oil and provide clean, import substitute, cost effective and pollution free cooking medium. For instance, in Manipur the cost of energy equivalent of one cylinder of Methanol is Rs. 650 compared to Rs. 850 per LPG cylinder. NITI Aayog has been working to replace 20% of country’s crude imports through methanol alone and push India towards a methanol based economy


  • Lack of strict enforcement laws and statutory bodies in energy sector hampers the progress
  • Lobbying from petroleum industries as well as lack of political maturity could slow the transition
  • Lack of a comprehensive solid waste management system in India
  • Lack of awareness as well as inertia of people to transition to a new alternative fuel
  • Shift in financial incentives from methanol research to populist development agenda

Way Forward

  • Ensure a seamless loop of CO2 sequestration cycle as Green House Gas emissions from industries can be tapped to produce back methanol
  • Ensure methanol economy reaches its commercial and viable stage
  • Make a comprehensive plan that follows timely replacement of crude imports as a national strategic move
  • Shift from methanol based blending in petrol to 100% Methanol
  • Formalize waste collection and management system both in urban and rural areas
  • Initiate shift of government departments from polluters to carbon neutral organizations
  • Revolutionize logistics sector by shifting to inland waterways-based transportation dependent on methanol.