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Conference report: Diesel Emissions Conference India

25 October 2013

The Diesel Emissions Conference India 2013 was held on October 8-10 in Pune. The conference, organized by Integer Research and attended by some 180 delegates, provided a forum to discuss future emission legislation and diesel fuel quality regulations in India, as well as several factors specific to the Indian market that may be interfering with the implementation of European style emission standards, diesel fuel specifications, and engine technology.

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India, just like many other emerging economies, maintains dual emission and fuel quality standards. Bharat Stage III (BS III) standards, based on Euro 3 regulations, are effective nationwide, while the Euro 4-based BS IV standards are required in a growing number (currently 20) of major cities. The corresponding diesel fuels contain a maximum of 350 ppm sulfur at the BS III stage and a maximum of 50 ppm sulfur for BS IV. The limited availability of 50 ppm sulfur diesel is the main barrier that prevents the nationwide introduction of BS IV standards. At this time, BS IV diesel accounts for 35% of the total diesel fuel use.

The Indian market, dominated by low income consumers, is very sensitive to the price of fuels and vehicles. The prices of petroleum fuels are controlled by the government. In view of the economic challenges in implementing higher quality fuels, the Indian government may consider an intermediate nationwide standard, between BS III and BS IV, that would be more achievable for the oil companies [S. Chaudhuri, Planning Commission, Govt of India].

In the longer term, India plans to implement BS V (Euro 5) standards, but the roadmap towards future standards and the implementation dates have not yet been adopted. A government committee has been formed to develop a comprehensive roadmap for auto fuel quality till 2025. The Auto Fuel Vision & Policy 2025 will recommend future emission and fuel standards, the use of alternative fuels, fiscal measures for funding upgrades to the refineries, as well as measures to reduce emissions from in-use vehicles (such as diesel retrofits). However, as more stringent fuel and emission standards are not popular among voters, no decisions are likely before the Indian general elections of 2014. While there is no official indication, it is anticipated that BS V standards may come into force around 2020.

As a result of prior clean air programs, including the Auto Fuel Policy of 2003, India has seen a lot of progress in fuel quality and vehicle emissions [A. Bandivadekar, ICCT]. Sulfur content has been reduced from 10,000 ppm in diesel and 2,000 ppm in gasoline to the current 350/50 ppm and 150/50 ppm, respectively. Other fuel properties were improved as well, and the use of CNG and LPG has increased, especially in city buses and autorickshaws. However, in the absence of the future regulatory roadmap, India pollution control efforts are falling behind other emerging markets, such as Brazil, Thailand, South Africa and China. The list of concerns includes the rapid increase in diesel car population in India and slow adoption of BS IV commercial vehicles. In new commercial vehicles, BS IV remains limited to a few bus fleets, while most trucks still have BS III emissions. The sales of diesel cars, which reached 50% of new vehicle sales in 2012/13, are driven by the lower price of diesel fuel. At Euro 4 emission levels, the diesels produce much higher PM and NOx emissions than gasoline cars.

Diesel Emissions Conference India 2014 will take place on September 16-18, 2014 in Pune.

Conference website: integer-research.com/dec-india-2013