Shrikant Vaidya: “Whatever energy India demands, we will be there to provide it.”

by Nilesh Wadhwa 29 Apr 2021

Day two of Autocar Professional’s virtual conference, ‘Meeting Emission Challenges’ kicked off with a keynote address by Indian Oil Corporation’s, chairman, Shrikant Madhav Vaidya, who detailed the OMC’s initiatives with auto manufacturers in developing the future fuel alternatives for India. 

Vaidya begin his address by lauding OMCs for the effort put in to rollout BS VI fuel in record time and make it available across 62,000 locations across country, despite many challenges. “The pandemic didn’t allow us to celebrate the great achievement, we rolled out fuel 2-3 weeks before the deadline (March 31, 2020). There are so many things happening, the way the automobile industry is gearing up for more efficiencies and it is working hard and it will surely improve further.”

Vaidya pointed out the various initiatives Indian Oil is undertaking to help reduce emissions. “Increase in fuel efficiency in automobiles is a low-hanging fruit. There has been a long-term demand from SIAM for 95 Octane gasoline."

He revealed plans to introduce XP100, a high-performance premium fuel which offers more power per litre. Interestingly, IOCL was the first company to launch the premium fuel in the country enabling India join Germany, US and other select nations that offer 100 Octane high performance fuel.

Vaidya confirmed that from May 1, IOCL’s XP95 fuel will be launched and will be available in 30 percent of its outlets initially.  “We are also committed to supply 95 octane fuel (petrol), out of our 35,000 outlets, we will make it available in 8,000 outlets initially and the target is to expand it to another 12,000-13,000 outlets by end-May. We are also launching upgraded high-performance diesel 55-Cetane. We have robust R&D in Faridabad and we have conducted tests on the upgraded fuel on commercial vehicles at ICAT, Manesar, which have revealed fuel efficiency increase of 6.9% – this constitutes big savings in diesel. There are added benefits of reduced emissions and noise too.”

Pilot program for 50 fuel cell buses
The commercial vehicle sector in India is among the most cost sensitive segments and industry stakeholders will always be on the lookout to reduce costs and enable lower TCO (total cost of ownership) to consumers. 

The IOCL chairman believes that hydrogen-spiked CNG could play a key role in making India’s CV industry cut down CO2 emission, “We have got good results on the H-CNG trial underway in Rajghat Delhi and it has far exceed the expectations / requirement. We have got great results on BS IV vehicles and emissions in these are similar to BS VI emission results. We will go in a big way with STUs, municipal and Delhi Transport Co for changing their fleet to H-CNG,” said Vaidya.

As part of its commitment for the use of hydrogen, IOCL plans to roll out 50 buses from its Panipat and Gujarat refineries.

Vaidya said: "Hydrogen is the fuel of the future & will be a game-changer for the auto industry. Our trials with BS4 vehicles have given BS6 emissions using hydrogen-spiked CNG. Indian Oil is committed to hydrogen and will be launching 50 buses using fuel cells."

He said that the company is able to produce hydrogen of 99.59 purity and by October-November the fuel-cell bus program will begin. Vaidya said that the project will be “more or less subsidised by IOCL for supplying hydrogen to OEMs. We are looking at working with OEMs.” 

LNG and electrification
Furthermore, he mentioned that the government is also exploring the usage of LNG for heavy commercial vehicles. In fact, the government aims to have at least 50 LNG stations on the golden quadrilateral (a network of highways connecting India’s four top cities, namely Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata) and 20 of these will be IOCL outlets and the work has already started on the same. According to the IOCL chairman, India aims to increase its share of gas energy in its energy mix from present 6.2 percent to 15 percent. IOCL is also working with STUs for converting their fleets to LNG. 

On March 17 Autocar Professional, broke the news on Indian Oil and Israel’s Phinergy’s joint venture, ‘IOC Phinergy’, that will manufacture aluminium-air (Al-Air) systems in India that can do away with the need for importing expensive lithium cells. Vaidya said, “We believe that we need to move out of the lithium zone and look at aluminium, which is abundantly available in India.” The Al-batteries provide the vehicles with range, economics as well does away for the need of long charging hours.

“Whatever the country needs, we will be there to provide it. India comprises one-third of global energy demand. It is likely that we will have all types of energy demand in the country. Be it top-notch demand (alternate energy) to IC engines we will provide all types of fuels,” concluded Vaidya.

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