Large fleet of hydrogen-run buses to ply on Indian roads
The government is currently charting the ‘National Hydrogen Energy Mission’ to create a hydrogen value-chain in the country and bring down the costs of hydrogen production.
To promote the use of hydrogen as a transportation fuel, the government has firmed up a plan to ensure that the country will soon have a very large fleet of buses running on compressed natural gas blended with hydrogen (HCNG). Currently, 50 buses of the state road transport corporation in plying on HCNG on a pilot basis in the national capital region.
Union minister of petroleum and natural gas (MoPNG) Dharmendra Pradhan said at a recent event here that the government was planning to scale the project up in the coming months across the major cities of India. It is not immediately clear if the government will purchase HCNG buses or promote the use and purchase of such vehicles via policy interventions and incentives or do both. “We are looking forward to introduce HCNG as an intermittent technology in a big way for both automotive and domestic cooking applications,” Pradhan said.
According to SSV Ramakumar, director of research and development at Indian Oil Corporation (IOCL), the company would be running about 75 hydrogen fuel-cell (HFC) powered buses on iconic routes such as Vadodara to Statue of Unity and Delhi to Agra. State-run power generator NTPC is already working on a project to promote HFC buses in Leh and the Delhi-Jaipur route.
“HCNG trials have shown very interesting and promising results in the test runs,” Sunil Kumar, joint secretary at ministry of petroleum and natural gas said, adding that “other oil marketing companies in India are also planning to replicate this at some fuel stations, including GAIL and Indraprastha Gas”.
IOCL is soon expected to submit its report on the results of Delhi’s pilot HCNG bus project, where the fuel mix has 18% hydrogen by volume resulting in lower emissions.
Pradhan pointed that by linking with natural gas, hydrogen could be easily adopted in the energy mix without seeking major overhaul of the existing infrastructure. The minister said that hydrogen could also be aligned with the other government schemes which promote waste-to-energy initiatives. S Dasappa, professor at IISC, Bangalore pointed that even if 10% of the country’s 250 million tonnes of surplus biomass is used, it could help produce 1.25 million tonne of green hydrogen. The country currently consumes about 5-6 million tonne of hydrogen annually.
The government is currently charting the ‘National Hydrogen Energy Mission’ to create a hydrogen value-chain in the country and bring down the costs of hydrogen production. However, given the current high costs and lack of supporting infrastructure, experts noted that the government has to overcome a number to challenges to build a sustainable eco-system for this new form of energy.