IOCL to setup India’s First Green Hydrogen Plant

IOCL to setup India’s First Green Hydrogen Plant

In the bid to prepare for a future catering to the growing demand for both oil and cleaner forms of energy, India’s largest oil firm Indian Oil Corporation (IOCL) will build the nation’s first green hydrogen plant at its Mathura refinery. The hydrogen will be used to replace fuels consumed at the refinery while converting crude to transport fuels.

Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) has drawn a strategic growth path that aims to maintain focus on its core refining and fuel marketing businesses while making bigger inroads into petrochemicals, hydrogen and electric mobility over the next 10 years.

Shrikant Madhav Vaidya, Chairman IOCL

How will IOCL produce green hydrogen ?

As per IOCL officials, the company will use electricity to produce absolutely green hydrogen through electrolysis. However, Indian Oil will not set captive power plants at all its future refinery and petrochemical expansion projects and instead use the 250 MW of electricity it produces from renewable sources like solar & wind power.

We have a wind power project in Rajasthan. We intend to wheel that power to our Mathura refinery and use that electricity to produce absolutely green hydrogen through electrolysis.

Shrikant Madhav Vaidya, Chairman IOCL

This will be the India’s first green hydrogen Plant unit. Previously, projects have been announced to produce ‘grey hydrogen‘ using fossil fuels such as natural gas.

Hydrogen is the latest initiative promoted by the Indian government as it seeks to reduce emissions. In her 2021-22 Budget Speech, India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that India will launch its National Hydrogen Energy Mission (NHEM) in 2021-22.

Hydrogen, in itself, is a clean fuel but manufacturing it is energy-intensive and has carbon byproducts. Brown hydrogen is created through coal gasification while the process of producing grey hydrogen throws off carbon waste. Blue hydrogen uses carbon capture and storage for the greenhouse gases produced in the creation of grey hydrogen. Green hydrogen production – the ultimate clean hydrogen resource – uses renewable energy to create hydrogen fuel.

Private-sector conglomerate Reliance Industries has also announced investments of around $10bn in the next three years to build plants that will produce green hydrogen and other forms of clean energy.

IOCL also plans to add 500,000 b/d of new refining capacity by 2024 at its existing Panipat, Barauni and Nagapattinam refineries, which will use clean energy to run operations instead of captive power units using fossil fuels such as fuel oil, naphtha or natural gas. It also has a continuing pilot project to produce 200-400 t/d of green hydrogen at its 274,000 b/d Koyali refinery for use in fuel cell buses.

IOCL has installed nearly 300 battery charging stations across India, with plans to increase this to 3,000 in the next few years. The company is pushing ahead with research on carbon capture, utilisation and storage technologies — space where it is seeking global collaboration to meet its Paris climate goals.

“Mathura has been selected by virtue of its proximity to TTZ (Taj Trapezium Zone),” Vaidya said adding the green hydrogen will replace carbon-emitting fuels that are used in the refinery to process crude oil into value-added products such as petrol and diesel.

Hydrogen, he said, would be a fuel of the future. After this first green hydrogen plant, IOC is planning to set up several hydrogen production units on a pilot basis.

This includes a project at Gujarat refinery to produce finite purity hydrogen of 99.9999 per cent for hydrogen fuel cell buses. “Today, 50 buses in Delhi are being fueled by hydrogen-spiked compressed natural gas, or H-CNG, which has 18 per cent hydrogen content,” he said adding hydrogen fuel cell buses will be put to service on iconic routes of Vadodara-Sabarmati and Vadodara-Statue of Unity, Kevedia.

“About 15 fuel-cell-powered buses, with the fuel cells entirely India-made, are expected to ply in the second half of 2021. Since running these buses would require hydrogen, IOC is setting up a plant, whose capacity could be anywhere between 200 tonnes and 400 tonnes per day,” he added.

Forecasts by various agencies see Indian fuel demand climbing to 400-450 million tonnes by 2040 as against 250 million tonnes now. This gives enough legroom for all forms of energy to co-exist, Vadiya said adding the demand growth makes it imperative to pursue refining expansion as well as expand footprint in compressed natural gas, LNG, biodiesel and ethanol.