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India to Leverage CNG Pipeline Grid to Transport Hydrogen

India is working to leverage its compressed natural gas (CNG) pipeline grid and infrastructure to reduce the transportation cost for the new age emission free fuel—hydrogen. Also, plans are afoot to run buses across major Indian cities fueled by hydrogen blended with CNG, said India’s minister for petroleum and natural gas and steel Dharmendra Pradhan.


“Efforts are under way to leverage the vast CNG pipeline infrastructure to reduce the transportation cost of hydrogen," Pradhan said, while addressing a Hydrogen round table titled "Hydrogen Economy: New Delhi Dialogue—2021".


The round table was also attended by UAE’s industry and advanced technology minister Sultan bin Ahmad Sultan Al Jaber, Australia’s minister for energy and emissions reduction Angus Taylor, Denmark’s climate, energy and utilities minister Dan Jørgensen and US’ deputy energy secretary David M. Turk.


This also comes at a time when India, the world’s third-largest oil importer, is recalibrating its energy sourcing playbook keeping its strategic and economic interests in mind. The Indian government is working on diversifying the country’s energy basket with crude oil supplies from non-Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) sources, after the Opec-plus grouping’s decision to retain supply curbs.


“50 buses in Delhi are plying on blended hydrogen in CNG on a pilot basis. We plan to scale it up in the coming months across the major cities of India," Pradhan added.


Indian private companies, such as Greenko, Adani Group, and Acme Solar, and state-owned firms such as NTPC Ltd and Indian Oil Corp. Ltd, have been tying up with technology providers, while Solar Energy Corp. of India Ltd is looking to invite bids to build green hydrogen plants. Given that hydrogen can be used for both fuel cell and internal combustion engines, it is also being leveraged for mobility applications.


Mint earlier reported about Toyota Motor Corp., Hyundai Motor Co., Tata Motors Ltd, Ashok Leyland Ltd and KPIT Technologies Ltd evincing interest in India’s maiden initiative to run hydrogen-powered fuel cell-based electric cars and buses.


Green hydrogen gas is produced by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using an electrolyzer that may be powered by electricity generated from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, or ‘green’ hydrogen. While hydrogen produced from natural gas is referred to as ‘grey’ hydrogen, the emission-free fuel produced from coal or petroleum coke is ‘brown’ hydrogen. Hydrogen produced from carbon capture and storage is known as ‘blue’ hydrogen, while the one from biomass and plastics is known as ‘white’ hydrogen.


“We are working on a pilot project on Blue Hydrogen, Hydrogen CNG (H-CNG) and Green Hydrogen," Pradhan said, and added, “India is looking towards various colours to kick-start the hydrogen ecosystem development."


The clean fuel can be a game-changer for India, which imports 85% of its oil and 53% of gas demand. “The utility of hydrogen is not going to be limited only to the transport sector. The maturity of the ecosystem can be accelerated through its usage as a decarbonizing agent for a range of sectors, including industry covering chemicals, iron, steel, fertilizer and refining, transport, heat (domestic & industrial) and power," Pradhan said.


In November, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced plans to launch a National Hydrogen Energy Mission, buttressing the country’s green energy credentials with the carbon emission-free, next-generation fuel. India plans to build hydrogen plants that will run on electricity produced by green energy sources and help reduce dependence on fossil fuels. These plants will provide grid-scale storage solutions and provide feedstock for ammonia production.


“Government of India recently announced the National Hydrogen Mission in the Union Budget 2021 for making a hydrogen roadmap for the country," Pradhan added.


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