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EXCLUSIVE | Modi Govt’s Hydrogen Mission Kicks Off as IOCL Invites Bids for Panipat, Mathura Green Units

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during the "Accelerating Clean Technology Innovation and Deployment" event at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, on November 2, 2021. (Evan Vucci/Pool via REUTERS)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during the "Accelerating Clean Technology Innovation and Deployment" event at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, on November 2, 2021. (Evan Vucci/Pool via REUTERS)

Green hydrogen is a key facet in India’s aim to achieve net-zero emissions by 2070, as announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the recent Climate Summit in Glasgow.

The Narendra Modi government’s National Hydrogen Mission is kick-starting with the Indian Oil Corporation (IOCL) floating a global tender to set up green hydrogen generation units at two of its big refineries in North India. IOCL is India’s largest commercial undertaking, operating the largest number of refineries in the country.

“In line with Government guidelines, as a starting measure, IOCL intends to set up Green Hydrogen Generation units at Mathura and Panipat Refineries with installed capacities of 5000 MT per annum & 2000 MT per annum respectively on Build Own Operate (BOO) basis,” the Expression of Interest (EOI) document, accessed by News18, says.

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It says the period of operation will be 16 to 24 years and the green hydrogen units will have to be commissioned within 28 months of the issuance of work order. The Panipat refinery & petrochemical complex has current refining capacity of 15 MMTPA while the refinery located in Mathura has an operating capacity of 8 MMTPA. This could be a major fillip to the government’s vision of an Atmanirbhar Bharat.

PM Narendra Modi had in November 2020 announced plans to launch a comprehensive National Hydrogen Energy Mission. Subsequently, in the Budget speech this year, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the National Hydrogen Mission for generating hydrogen from green power sources and making a hydrogen roadmap for the country.

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In April, then petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan said India was looking to kick-start the hydrogen ecosystem development. He had highlighted that India’s petroleum sector was the largest producer of hydrogen for refinery process operations and the sector had the capability to produce hydrogen molecules, stored and traded as gas, making a natural votary of this new energy form.

The IOCL Plan

The global EOI floated by IOCL says the production of green hydrogen at both its proposed units in Panipat and Mathura will be on continuous basis (24×7) with renewable energy power using water electrolysis method. “This Green Hydrogen will be mixed with existing Grey Hydrogen network (H2 produced using Naphtha or Natural Gas) for the captive purpose in secondary processing units,” the document says. It adds that by-products such as Oxygen can be sold on merchant sale basis by the operator, but IOCL would reserve the rights of first usage of Oxygen. IOCL will provide land to build, own, operate and maintain the green hydrogen plant. Experienced Indian and foreign operators have been invited to place bids.

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The Panipat and Mathura refineries are among the 11 refineries operated by Indian Oil and its subsidiaries. Last month, GAIL chairman Manoj Jain had also said that the state-owned company will build India’s largest green hydrogen-making plant and had finalised 2-3 sites for the unit.

State electricity producer NTPC also announced a green hydrogen plant recently. Other major companies like Reliance Industries also have big plans. The National Hydrogen Mission aims to develop India into a global hub for manufacturing of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies across the value chain, aligned with ‘Make in India’ and ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ ideas.

Bigger Picture

Green hydrogen is also a key facet in India’s aim to achieve net-zero emissions by 2070, as announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the recent Climate Summit (COP) in Glasgow. India wants to transform the current situation where presently its entire hydrogen production comes from fossil fuels.

Former petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan had said in April that green hydrogen was needed for ample access to affordable energy to improve the lives of Indians, coupled with the need to have a smaller carbon footprint. “Hydrogen has great potential to emerge as a future source of energy. The enthusiasm about hydrogen has a simple reason: whether it’s used in a fuel cell or burned to create heat, wherever hydrogen replaces fossil fuels, it slows global warming,” Pradhan had said.

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first published:November 18, 2021, 10:38 IST