IOC to set up green hydrogen plants at all refineries

01 Mar 2023

IOC, India's largest oil company, will install green hydrogen plants at all of its refineries as part of a Rs 2 trillion green transition strategy to attain net-zero emissions from its operations by 2046, according to its chairman Shrikant Madhav Vaidya.

Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) is restructuring its business with a greater emphasis on petrochemicals to hedge fuel volatility, while also transforming petrol pumps into energy outlets that offer EV charging points and battery swapping options in addition to conventional fuels as it seeks to become future-ready, he said.

The company plans to increase its refining capacity from 81.2 million tonnes to 106.7 million tonnes per year 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.

Hydrogen, the cleanest known fuel that emits just oxygen and water when burned, is being hailed as the fuel of the future, but its higher cost than alternative fuels currently limits its use in businesses. Refineries that convert crude oil into fuels like gasoline and diesel use hydrogen to reduce the sulphur content in diesel fuel.

Nowadays, this hydrogen is created utilising fossil fuels such as natural gas. IOC intends to split water using electricity generated from renewable sources such as solar to produce green hydrogen. Vaidya stated that the corporation will invest Rs 20 billion to build a 7,000 tonne per year green hydrogen production facility at its Panipat oil refinery by 2025.

"We're starting with Panipat, but all refineries will eventually have green hydrogen units," he said. This contributes to the company's goal of reaching net-zero emissions from operations by 2046. "We intend to invest more than Rs 2 trillion in order to attain net zero," he said.

These investments encompass setting up green hydrogen facilities at refineries, enhancing efficiency, renewable energy capacity addition and alternate fuels. IOC's current annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, primarily from refining operations, are 21.5 million tonne carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2e). After accounting for planned expansions and the emissions of its subsidiaries, this figure will climb to 40.44 MMTCO2e by 2030.

96% of its current emissions are due to processes such as direct fuel burning for obtaining energy from heat, steam, electricity, and cooling, which are part of operations. These are the Scope-1 emissions. The remaining 4 per cent is due to obtaining electricity from the grid, which results in Scope-2 emissions.

According to Vaidya, IOC has developed a path to reach net zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions, which include emissions from its crude refining operations and energy usage. Green hydrogen is expected to account for 50% of total hydrogen output in 5-10 years, and 100% by 2040. Vaidya further stated that IOC intends to increase renewable energy capacity to 12 gigatonnes (MW) from the existing 256 MW and to have electric vehicle charging stations at 10,000 petrol stations within two years.

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