• Dharmendra Pradhan asks oil ministry, PSUs to explore hydrogen fuel feasibility

    Oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Thursday instructed the ministry officials and heads of the three oil and gas public sector undertakings (PSUs) to explore the feasibility of using hydrogen as a fuel in the Indian ecosystem by collaborating with experts and holding workshops as a starting point.

    The minister was inspecting an electric vehicle (EV) powered by hydrogen-fuel cell technology at an event organised by Toyota India in New Delhi.

    “India’s massive biomass potential, expanding natural gas coverage, and push for electricity generation from renewables offers a good opportunity to explore hydrogen as well as other green and sustainable sources of energy for a more decarbonised future,” Pradhan said in a social media post.

    In a bid to decrease India’s increasing dependence on imported crude oil, the oil ministry has been trying to push for higher adoption of natural gas and alternative fuels to revive its economy.

    India’s oil import dependence reached a record-high of 84.5 per cent in the April-October period of financial year 2019-20 (FY20). Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set a target of reducing crude oil import dependence by 10 per cent by 2022.

    The oil ministry through a slew of policy initiatives has tried to push new business models around generation of natural gas and alternative fuels, at a time when increasing the country’s domestic crude oil production from current levels seems like a distant possibility.

    Pradhan at an industry event on Thursday added that while domestic natural gas production is expected to significantly increase from current levels, domestic crude oil production will plateau.

    The ministry has, in the past four years, come out with a number of policies including blending of ethanol in petrol by promoting second generation and first generation ethanol industry — National Policy on Biofuels; conversion of used cooking oil to biodiesel for blending — Repurpose Used Cooking Oil; and agriculture waste to compressed biogas used as CNG in automobiles — Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation scheme.

    The minister on Thursday, after test driving the hydrogen-fuelled EV, instructed officials at the oil ministry and oil and gas PSUs to take a stock of research being done around the country on hydrogen-fuel cell technology and economical production of hydrogen.

    Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), the country’s largest fuel retailer, through its research and development (R&D) centre has been researching on hydrogen-fuel cell technology and on bringing down the cost of producing hydrogen.

    S S V Ramakumar, director – R&D, IOC, had earlier told ET EnergyWorld that the company had a testing facility for hydrogen fuel stacks and has been running trials on a retrofitted bus running on hydrogen-fuel cell technology. The company also has a first-of-its-kind hydrogen dispensing station at its Faridabad R&D facility.

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