IOC plans green hydrogen plants at all refineries

Oil will remain a staple fuel for the foreseeable future, but we are preparing for a transition that will combine green hydrogen, biofuels, electric vehicles, and alternative fuels, according to the IOC chief.

According to its chairman Shrikant Madhav Vaidya, India’s largest oil company IOC would install green hydrogen plants at each of its refineries as part of a Rs 2 lakh crore green transition strategy to attain net-zero emissions from operations by 2046.

In order to reduce fuel market volatility, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) is restructuring its operations with a greater emphasis on petrochemicals. At the same time, it is converting gas stations into energy hubs that provide EV charging stations and battery swapping options in addition to conventional fuels in order to position itself for the future, he said.

As India’s oil consumption rises from 5.1 million barrels per day to 7–7.2 million bpd by 2030 and 9 million bpd by 2040, the business plans to increase its refining capacity to 106.7 million tonnes per year from 81.2 million tonnes.

Oil will remain a staple fuel for the foreseeable future, but we are preparing for a transition that will combine green hydrogen, biofuels, electric vehicles, and alternative fuels, he said.

Although hydrogen is being hailed as the fuel of the future because it burns cleanly, emitting just oxygen and water, its relative cost premium over alternative fuels now restricts its use in industry. Hydrogen is used in refineries to reduce the sulfur level of diesel fuel, which is the raw material used to make gasoline and diesel.

At the moment, natural gas and other fossil fuels are used to manufacture this hydrogen. IOC intends to split water using electricity produced from renewable resources, such as solar energy, to create green hydrogen.

In an interview with PTI, Vaidya stated that the business plans to invest Rs 2,000 crore by 2025 to build a 7,000 tonnes per year green hydrogen production facility at its Panipat oil refinery.

All refineries would eventually have green hydrogen units, he added, adding that Panipat is just the beginning.

This is a component of the business’s goal to achieve net-zero operational emissions by 2046.

He stated, “We intend to invest over Rs 2 lakh crore to reach net zero.

These expenditures go toward boosting efficiency, adding capacity for renewable energy, developing alternative fuels, and installing green hydrogen facilities at refineries.

The company’s refining operations account for the majority of IOC’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which total 21.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2e) annually. By 2030, after accounting for planned expansions and the emissions of its subsidiaries, this will increase to 40.44 MMTCO2e.

The corporation intends to replace liquid fuels with natural gas in refineries and to switch from grey (made from fossil fuel) to green (generated from renewable electricity) hydrogen.

In addition, IOC is considering Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS), among other methods, for carbon offsetting.

“We expect to achieve a two-thirds reduction in emissions through energy efficiency, electrification, and fuel substitution activities, while around a third of the total emission would be offset through choices like CCUS, nature-based solutions, and the purchase of carbon credits,” he said.

96% of its present emissions are caused by operations-related processes such as direct fuel burning for heating, steam generation, power generation, and cooling. These are the emissions that fall within Scope-1. The remaining 4% comes from using the grid to obtain electricity, which results in Scope-2 emissions.

According to Vaidya, IOC has created a plan to reach net zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions, or emissions from its energy use and crude refining processes.

It intends for green hydrogen to make up 50% of its total hydrogen output in five to ten years and 100% by the year 2040.

In addition, Vaidya stated that IOC wants to install electric vehicle charging stations at 10,000 gas stations during the next two years, increasing the capacity of renewable energy from 256 MW to 12 gigawatts.

The amount of crude oil currently transformed into chemicals, or the petrochemical intensity, is only 5–6%. We want to increase it to between 10% and 12%, he said.

He added that the all-India average being aimed is 10–12%. The company’s two more recent refineries, in Panipat in Haryana and Paradip in Odisha, have a petrochemical intensity of 15-20%, which would be raised to 25%.

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