India’s largest oil firm Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) will build the country’s first ‘green hydrogen’ plant at its Mathura refinery. The move aims to prepare for a future catering to the growing demand for both oil and cleaner forms of energy.
According to the Chairman of IOC, Shrikant Madhav Vaidya, IOC has drawn a strategic growth path that aims at maintaining the focus on its core refining and fuel marketing businesses, while also making the inroads into hydrogen, petrochemicals, and electric mobility over the next 10 years.
He also added that the company will not be setting captive power plants at its future refinery and petrochemical expansion projects. It will instead use the 250 MW of electricity the company produces from renewable sources like solar power.
Indian Oil Corporation has also been pushing ahead with the research on carbon capture, utilization, and the storage technologies-space where it has been seeking global collaboration to meet its Paris Climate goals.
Hydrogen Production: What do we know?
Hydrogen is the latest buzz to meet the world’s energy needs. Hydrogen, in itself, is a clean fuel but manufacturing it is energy-intensive and has carbon by-products.
Brown hydrogen is manufactured through coal gasification while the process of creating grey hydrogen throws off the carbon waste. On the other hand, blue hydrogen uses carbon capture and storage for the greenhouse gases that are produced in the creation of grey hydrogen.
Production of Green Hydrogen-the ultimate clean hydrogen resource- uses renewable energy to create hydrogen fuel.
India’s first green hydrogen plant: Key Highlights
• The plant in Mathura will be India’s first green hydrogen unit. Earlier, the projects have been announced to produce grey hydrogen with the use of fossil fuels such as natural gas.
• The Chairman of IOC informed that the company has a wind power project in Rajasthan. It intends to wheel that power to its Mathura refinery and use that electricity to produce the absolutely green hydrogen through electrolysis.
• Mathura refinery for green hydrogen has been selected by the virtue of its proximity to TTZ (Taj Trapezium Zone). The green hydrogen will replace the carbon-emitting fuels that are used in the refinery for processing the crude oil into value-added products such as diesel and petrol.
IOC’s expansion projects to use green power:
The Chairman of the Indian Oil Corporation informed that all the expansion projects of IOC will use the grid electricity and preferably green power to meet the energy requirements.
He mentioned that IOC has got a number of expansions down the line which are already approved. The company will not have a captive power plant and will utilize the power from the grid, preferably the green power. This will help in decarbonizing some parts of the manufacturing.
IOC is going to add 25 million tonnes of its refining capacity by the year 2023-24. Currently, IOC is 8.5 million tonnes including CPCL, it is going to be 105 million tonnes.
IOC’s refinery expansion plans-
1. Raising the capacity of units at Panipat in Haryana and Barauni, Bihar.
2. Setting up a new unit in Chennai.
IOC’s plan to set up several Hydrogen production units:
As Hydrogen will be fuel for the future, the company has been planning to set up several Hydrogen production units on a pilot basis. This will include-
• A project at Gujarat Refinery for producing the finite purity hydrogen of 99.9999 percent for hydrogen fuel cell buses. The buses will be put to service on iconic routes of Vadodara-Statue of Unity and Vadodara-Sabarmati.
• Around 15 fuel-cell-powered buses, with the fuel cells made entirely in India, are expected to play in the second half of 2021.
• Since running these buses will require hydrogen, IOC will set up a plant, whose capacity can be anywhere between 200 tonnes and 400 tonnes per day.
IOC’s bend towards clean energy: What is the reason?
• Petroleum refining and marketing will continue to be the company’s core business. Also, gas will play a larger role and the firm will have a presence in electric mobility space through the charging stations at the petroleum pumps and a planned battery manufacturing unit.
• Forecasts by various agencies have shown that the Indian fuel demand will climb to 400-500 million tonnes by the year 2040 as against 250 million tonnes now. This provides enough room for all forms of energy to co-exist.
• The demand growth of the fuel also makes it imperative to pursue the refining expansion as well as the expansion of footprint in LNG, Compressed Natural Gas, ethanol, and biodiesel.
• IOC has also commissioned the battery swapping stations across many cities. The company has installed 286 charging stations across the country, it will be further raised to 3,000 EV Charging Stations in the next 5 years.