State-owned oil refining and marketing major Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) plans to invest ₹2 lakh crore in the coming years to achieve 'net zero' operational emissions by 2046.

The company aims to achieve two-thirds of emission reduction through energy efficiency, electrification and fuel replacement efforts. About a third of the total emission would be mitigated through options such as carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS), nature-based solutions and the purchase of carbon credits.

Further, IOC will pursue carbon reduction through hydrogen as a fuel, biofuels, renewables, carbon offsetting through ecosystem restoration and CCUS, says Shrikant Madhav Vaidya, chairman and managing director of Indian Oil.

Its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions currently stand at around 21.5 million metric tonnes (MMT) of carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2e) per annum with the refining and petrochemical operations being the major source of emissions, close to 97% and another 2% from fuel transportation. The bulk of these emissions is due to direct fuel burning for deriving energy from heat, steam, electricity, and cooling, as required in operations. "We already have a well-crafted blueprint in place, with a multi-pronged approach to take us gradually towards the Net Zero destination," SM Vaidya says.

He says the IOC has formed an alliance with the 'National Mission for Clean Ganga' for reusing the effluent from the city sewage treatment plant for the operations in its Mathura refinery. This project will soon be implemented and would help conserve nearly 20 million litres of Yamuna water every day. This will be among a select few refineries in the world to achieve such a green breakthrough and IOC is planning to replicate this model in other refineries gradually.

In 2020-21, IOC managed to reduce 3.36 MMT CO2e of emissions through the use of natural gas instead of liquid fuels, pipelines transportation of crude and fuels, a renewable energy portfolio of 240 megawatt (MW), energy conservation projects in refineries, 8 lakh LEDs installed across the company and by increasing green cover in its premises.

IOC is undertaking measures such as energy efficiency, low carbon fuel switch, renewable energy, shift to grid power, nature-based solutions and CCUS as measures to reduce emissions. It is setting up 5-kilo tonnes per annum (KTPA) and another 2 KTPA of green hydrogen units at its refineries.

Along with the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation(ONGC), the company is setting up 1,500 tonnes per day of CCUS projects at the existing refineries. Another strategy will be to increase the adoption of natural gas in refineries in place of liquid fuels and meet the electricity requirements of expansion projects in refineries through renewable sources. It has collaborated with National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) to source 2.3 gigawatt (GW) of renewable power to run refinery expansion projects, says Vaidya.

Increasing greener fuels in the product mix for consumers is another strategy. Ethanol blending has crossed 10% as a 100-kilo litres per day (KLPD) of 2G Ethanol project has come up at Panipat. Another 128 KLPD of the 3G Ethanol plant is under construction at Panipat and Compressed Bio-Gas (CBG) plants of 6 TPD at Hingonia and 25 TPD plants are under construction at Gorakhpur. Further, IOC is developing waste plastic to fuel and to have 10,000 electric vehicle charging stations within three years.

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