Tata Motors to cut carbon emissions by 30% by 2030

Tata Motors has set 2045 as the date by which it will be free of carbon emissions and is therefore increasing the skew of its Rs 1500–2000 crore annual investments accordingly. 

By Shahkar Abidi and Ketan Thakkar calendar 23 Mar 2023 Views icon9212 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp

Tata Motors has set 2045 as the date by which it will be free of carbon emissions and is therefore increasing the skew of its Rs 1500–2000 crore annual investments accordingly. 

Tata Motors, which plans to reduce its carbon emissions by at least 30% by 2030, anticipates that the adoption of hydrogen, which is considered to be more environmentally friendly, will occur sooner than expected, thanks to a recent surge in investments from large industrial houses and favouable government policies.

The confidence in the  Mumbai-based conglomerate appears to stem from rapid investments made in hydrogen technologies and related infrastructure by some of India's leading industrial firms such as its own parent Tata Group, Reliance Industries, Adani Group, and Vedanta, scheduled to reduce the retail price of hydrogen significantly. Currently, it costs about US$4–6 per kilogram to make green hydrogen from renewable sources like wind and sun, while it costs about US$2–3 per kilogram to produce green hydrogen from natural gas.

While Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries is investing more than US$4.4 billion to produce up to 1 million tonnes of green hydrogen by 2030, Gujarat-based Adani Group has pledged more than US$1 billion over the next five years. Similarly, the Tata Group has announced US$5 billion in investment plans. On the other side, mining conglomerate Vedanta has formed a partnership with TotalEnergies, a significant French energy business, to invest in the area, which has been put on hold at the present. 

Commenting on the developments, Girish Wagh, Executive Director, Tata Motors, told Autocar Professional, "The entire climate change-related transitions are happening much faster than we think." Four years ago, did all of us know that battery-powered vehicles would take off so quickly? "The same is true for hydrogen," he added before emphasising that as things become clearer, the government and corporations are putting together action plans, and as a result, developments begin to take place. 

Currently, India spends more than US$160 billion in foreign exchange each year on energy imports. It is anticipated to rise significantly during the next 15 years if nothing is done. To address the issue, green hydrogen can be more cost-effective not only when compared to fossil-fuel-based hydrogen, but also when compared to green hydrogen produced internationally, owing to India's distinct advantage in terms of low-cost renewable electricity and fast-reducing electrolyzer prices.

Rajendra Petkar, president and chief technology officer (CTO) at Tata Motors stated that while India has vowed to be carbon neutral by 2070, the three recent government announcements have laid out a clear framework for the usage of green hydrogen.

In 2019, the Indian government announced the National Hydrogen Energy Mission (NHEM) to help the country develop energy technologies that use hydrogen. The purpose is to enhance hydrogen-generating technologies, infrastructure, and applications through collaboration.

Almost a year later, in February 2022, India pushed the envelope further with the introduction of a landmark Green Hydrogen Policy to aid in the deployment of green hydrogen projects in India. The policy encourages the production and use of green hydrogen, establishes manufacturing zones, and incentivises green hydrogen/ammonia manufacturers to obtain renewable energy through the power exchange or establish their own renewable energy projects.

In addition, more recently, in January 2023, the Union Cabinet approved  Rs 19,744 crore for the hydrogen mission. This amount included Rs 17,490 crore for the Sustainable India Green Hydrogen and Technologies (SIGHT) program, Rs 1,466 crore for pilot projects, Rs 400 crore for research and development, and Rs 388 crore for other mission components. This shift is estimated to attract over Rs 8 lakh crores in investments and create over 6 lakh jobs in India by 2030. Furthermore, it is expected that around 50 MMT of CO2 emissions will be prevented by 2030. These programs, along with the recently announced Production Linked Incentive Plan for solar PV, the manufacturing of advanced cell chemistry (ACC) batteries, and FAME subsidies for EVs, are tangible policy pushes toward realising these ambitions, experts claim.

"This very clearly indicates that there is a very strong intent to accelerate the transition towards green hydrogen technology," Petkar said. He continued that, until about 2-3 years ago, it was seen as a distant future, but now it has come so close. “If you ask me, there is only one direction, which is absolutely forward in terms of embracing green hydrogen technology. It's only a matter of time before it happens," Petkar added. 

Tata Motors introduced a comprehensive spectrum of greener, sustainable logistics and mass mobility solutions across the commercial vehicle (CV) categories at the Auto Expo 2023, powered by natural gas, electric, and hydrogen. Among the hydrogen propulsion concepts on display was the Starbus Fuel Cell EV, which the manufacturer claims is India's first hydrogen fuel cell bus for commercial use. Tata Motors also unveiled the PRIMA E.55S and PRIMA H.55S concepts, which are hydrogen fuel cell-driven tractors and hydrogen Internal Combustion Engine-powered concept vehicles, respectively.

Hydrogen ICE taking lead over fuel cell

Wagh goes on to add that since the global zero carbon transition is also about "just transition," meaning there should be a fair balance between the developing and developed worlds, hydrogen ICE adoption suits a country like India, as it protects the business interests of ICE makers. "So, it looks like hydrogen ICE may reach the same total cost of operation (TCO) as diesel earlier and then CNG, which has the lowest TCO, later. "Today the price of hydrogen is very high," Wagh concludes.

Increasing skew towards cleaner mobility

As per Wagh, even Tata Motors is looking to cut carbon emissions by at least 30% by the end of this decade as part of its effort to achieve net carbon zero by 2045. This goal is being worked toward with the help of many different fuel technologies, such as improved conventional fuels, electric vehicles, LNG, CNG, hydrogen fuel cells, hydrogen internal combustion engines (ICE), and flex-fuel. And to help the company reach its emission goals, it has signed up with SBTi, which comes with an annual target.

SBTi Net-Zero Criteria are a set of standards created by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) to assist businesses in defining and creating net-zero emissions targets in accordance with what the science shows is required to prevent dangerous global warming. Companies that use the SBTi Net-Zero Criteria must set a goal to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 or earlier. The targets must also be in line with the Paris Agreement, which has a goal to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.

Tata Motors puts between Rs 1,500 crore and Rs 2,000 crore into its commercial vehicle (CV) business every year. The company says it is investing more and more in greener technologies across its production and tailpipe emissions at a rate of about double digits per year. "When I talk of double digits, we need to understand that vehicle levels were actually higher than 50%, which is anyway common." That’s why we made fuel agonistic. "But I am talking about propulsion technology," Wagh continued.

A survey of the industry found that about 18% of all carbon emissions come from the logistics and transportation sector, of which CV is a big part. Pollutants in the vehicle industry are mostly caused by three sources: first, the fossil fuels used to power manufacturing plants. Second, the fossil fuels that are burned to make the electricity that the company buys. Third, from all the emissions that are left over from the value chain, both upstream and downstream. Importantly, when it comes to the downstream value chain, it is tailpipe emissions that account for roughly 95% of overall emissions.

To address the dilemma, Wagh says his company is working to shift all of its plant energy demands to renewable sources. "Furthermore, the product range is designed in such a way that we will reach net zero by 2045." "For the foreseeable future, the country must have a mix of all possible technologies," he went on to say.

New RD regulations to provide a further boost to bus segments​​​​​​​

Rohit Srivastava, Vice President of Product Line Head Buses at Tata Motors, stated, while discussing the use of new technologies, that the industry is seeing a lot of demand from schools and other segments because of the new real driving emission regulations. "In Q1 and Q2 of the next financial year, we see a very huge demand coming in for school and staff buses," Srivastava said before pointing out that demand from the intercity segment, which has been slow to pick up, may also end up going up by then.  

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