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Emerging business scenario for Hydrogen based Fuel Cells as a backup power option for Mobile towers in India:

A case study

Dr. R.K.Malhotra Indian Oil Corporation Limited, R&D Centre, Sector -13, Faridabad, Haryana, India

Indias energy requirements Hydrogen in Indian Context HCNG initiatives in India Emerging Fuel Cell Industry Fuel Cell as back-up power source Recent Developments Challenges & Opportunities

Indias Growing appetite for Clean Energy

GDP expected to grow at 7%-10% in the coming years With increasing growth, imports of Oil & Gas are on rise Vehicular population growing @ 12-15% / annum During 2010-11, the total vehicle sales 14.13 mn 10.91 mn 2-wheelers 1.6 mn passenger cars Emergence of Energy security and improvement in Ambient Air Quality, as the biggest challenge
Searching for the alternatives

Clean & Sustainable energy is the solution

Source: SIAM &

Hydrogen Indian Context

PRODUCTION Present Scenario

in the refineries through reforming of natural gas and naphtha, for captive utilization and fertilizer industry are also producing hydrogen


Future Developments

Electrolysis using Solar / Wind energy Solar Water splitting thermal & biological routes Bio-mass / Coal Gasification route Plasma gasification of Municipal waste

Nuclear waste heat

Hydrogen Indian Context

Hydrogen can emerge as a clean energy carrier for broad range of applications including electricity (back-up power) and transportation Large areas in the country either dont have access to electricity or have poor grid power availability: de-centralized power using hydrogen gen-sets and fuel cells Fuel cells vehicles operating on hydrogen especially for 2/3 wheeler applications Leading automobile manufacturers and academic institutes working closely to develop hydrogen I C engine/fuel cell vehicles

Hydrogen seems to be an answer for meeting stringent emission norms

HCNG Advantage for India

Existing IC engine technology and CNG fuelling infrastructure can be
adapted with minimal modifications

Blending of Hydrogen in CNG results in improved performance and

emissions of engines Reduced emissions Higher Thermal efficiency of engine

NOx emissions using HCNG - ? CNG blended with hydrogen up to 20% (v/v) declared as an Automotive
fuel by Govt. of India and to follow all safety and emission norms applicable to CNG

Opportunity for Oil companies and Vehicle manufacturers to

gain experience on Production, Transportation, Storage, Distribution and Application of hydrogen as a Transport fuel Lower HCNG blends are cost competitive as compared to hydrogen

Hydrogen / HCNG Activities of IndianOil

Infrastructure Development hydrogen and HCNG dispensing stations R&D programs initiated on use of HCNG blends along with MNRE, MoP&NG and Indian Automobile manufacturers

Testing of un-modified vehicles on different blends of HCNG Vehicle development and evaluation in collaboration with OEMs Field trials on modified vehicles for durability studies Natural gas reforming Coal / Bio-mass gasification Photo-catalysis of Water Solar hydrogen

Research initiated for hydrogen production through:

Series of workshops on hydrogen safety, development of codes and standards organized by IOC R&D Centre includingWHTC 2009

Hydrogen Activities of IndianOil

IndianOil set up Indias first Hydrogen Dispensing Station at its R&D

Centre, Faridabad in Oct, 2005 H2/HCNG dispensing station set-up at a retail outlet I New Delhi for demonstration vehicles

Faridabad Station

Dwarka Station

Hydrogen production Electrolyser (5 Nm3/hr) Hydrogen Dispensing - 350 bar HCNG Dispensing - 250 bar

Hydrogen Activities of IndianOil

Single step process developed for HCNG production
Piped NG
Heat exchange and Preheater

ZnO Bed


HCNG (H2 ~ 20%) P=250 bar


Technology based on compact steam methane reforming Patent filed Flexibility to produce 15-30% (v/v) hydrogen in HCNG Demo unit set up at IOC-R&D and integrated with HCNG dispenser for direct

Process designed for quick start / stop
Suitable for retail filling stations with varying demand

Fuel Cells developments in India

Leading Automotive manufacturers are gearing to launch demo fuel cell operated / FC hybrid vehicles in India Tata Motors has launched programmes to develop fuel cell buses Global Auto majors are coming up with their R&D centers in India Fuel cell manufacturers are launching demonstration projects for providing back-up power to tele-towers De-centralized power generation is the key emerging market Many organizations / academic institutes are working in hydrogen storage field Manufacturers, Distributors, material suppliers and integrators include the leading global players

Govt. of India is supporting and coordinating the FC program

Market background Growth of mobile sector in India

Exponential growth experienced during the last decade
Industry is growing at an annual rate of 26% Worlds second largest user base with 919 million users as

on March,12
3rd largest internet users : 121 million as on December,11

Overall tele-density has crossed exceeds 78%

On an average, approx. 8-10 millions new additions per


Source: TRAI, 2012 &

End User Market

There are approx. 0.35 million Tele-towers in India Figure set to increase to 0.5 million by 2015 and 1 billion by 2018 At present, Diesel Gen-set is the prime mover option in case of grid non-availability Mobile towers are the second largest diesel consuming sector in India after Indian Railways Power back-up of 8-10 hours per day required for each tower

Grid availability in India a Challenge

70% of cell tower sites face more than 8 hours of power outage Back-up power requirement = 6000 MWh/day (3kW per site for 8hrs on 70% total tower sites (0.35 million)

>20 hrs

Tower share

Mainly metro cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Chandigarh, some cities of Gujarat & Punjab covers most other major cities and towns in the rest of the country All semi-urban and small urban towns in all state


16 20 hrs 12 16 hrs

20% 30%


8 to 12 hrs
<8 hrs off grid


Mostly rural areas

Most parts of Bihar, NE states, Odisha, UP and J&K
Source: TRAI report Source:

Diesel Gensets are the prime option to supply power to telecom towers in case of Grid unavailability

Issues with Diesel Gensets

Diesel Genset of overrated capacity (~15kVA) being used Poor reliability of DG-sets During 2010, 0.52 billion gallons of diesel consumed by mobile towers

Average running cost of DG-set ` 13-15 / kWhr

Genset running cost is approx. 1/3 of the total cost of operation of Base Trans-receiver Station (BTS) 5.3 million tons of CO2 emissions produced through consumption of diesel

Telecom Tower Operators Perspective


Poor grid availability

About 30% spillage and pilferage losses associated with diesel

Significant noise and air pollution from Gensets Unpredictable life expectancy of batteries

Interest in Green initiatives

Reduce overall carbon footprints of their network Reducing the power requirements of their equipment Looking for a cleaner & sustainable back-up power option

About 50 Pilot projects on use of Fuel cells already launched by different fuel cell manufacturers in association with gas suppliers Govt. of India is giving subsidies to power back-up solutions based on alternative energy

Replacement Model with Fuel Cells

PEM based Fuel cell of 2-5kW capacity are emerging as the key alternative to Diesel gen-sets for such applications Direct replacement of DG-set with fuel cell is possible Space is required for on-site hydrogen storage

Demo systems have been operational in India over significant periods of time ensuring 99.99% site availability
Battery size with fuel cell may reduce due to lower starting time as compared to DG-set Multiple towers can be monitored from the one central location

Process Flow Diagram

Vent Safety Vent

H2 Supply
1) Mobile Re- Fueller 2) Cylinders

200 bar

6 bar

H2 Cylinders

Fuel Cell (2-5 KW)

Electric Power

Cell Tower Water

Potential Market for Fuel Cells backed Tele-towers

Around 50,000 new sites to be installed per year for next 3 years
Current Sites 350,000
FC installation scope


25% per year

122,500 per year

New Sites
50,000 new sites per year

Grid Failure > 8 hrs /day

70% per year


Quantity of hydrogen requirement for providing back up power to 1,00,000 towers with grid failure of 8 hrs/day will be ~300 tonnes/day

Hydrogen Supply-Chain
From Source to End-point




Bottling & Transportation

Delivery at site

Long Supply-chain significantly increases the total delivered cost of hydrogen at site.

Hydrogen Production in Fertilizer & Chlor-Alkali Plants Fertilizer Plant

Total hydrogen produced in Fertilizer plants is 2.33 MMTPA (2009-10) No excess hydrogen available due to captive consumption

Chlor-alkali Plant
Total hydrogen produced in Chlor-alkali plants is 0.073 MMTPA Excess hydrogen available is ~ 0.009 MMT due to captive consumption Hydrogen Purity available 97-98% Current Capacities would not be able to support future

Hydrogen Production in Refineries

Refineries producing hydrogen for captive usage Feedstock: Natural gas / Naphtha 15 hydrogen generation units installed Excess capacity available for external market Discharge pressure: 18-20 Kg/cm2 (g) Purity levels: 99.9% Typical Impurities
CO: ~20ppm CO2: ~35ppm CH4: ~50ppm

IndianOil Refineries Guwahati Barauni Gujarat Haldia Mathura Digboi Panipat

Generation (Nm3/hr) 10539 65848 163875 87270 118099 7781 272465

BGR Total

31745 757622

Other Oil companies in India also have hydrogen production capabilities

Supply-chain Infrastructure and Logistics


Site 1

NG / Naphtha/ Chlor alkali



Hydrogen plant / refinery

Site 2

Site 3

Site 100

To initiate, existing hydrogen production facilities like chlor-alkali, refineries etc. may be utilized As the market grows, infrastructure development can be take up depending upon the availability of production and demand centres Use compressed hydrogen @200 bar in cylinders of suitable capacity to deliver hydrogen to sites The requirement of other demand zones can also be explored

Marketing challenges
Cost of the fuel cell Performance of the integrated system under Indian conditions Government plans on supporting the Green initiatives Hydrogen storage technology, Fuel Cell system, Hydrogen and battery energy storage improvements and advanced control systems Major investment required in Hydrogen production Infrastructure expansion: purification, compression and bottling Highway safety Fuel safety (new standards for H2) New local safety and zoning requirements for fueling locations To transport hydrogen at pressures > 200bar To permit more storage capacity per site Mobile refueller

Technological challenges

Fuel Producer

Safety management

Regulatory and statutory approvals

HCNG experience gained on vehicles will offer opportunities for Automotive fuel cell applications Indian has an opportunity to implement hydrogen based teletowers due to non-availability of continuous power supply Till renewable H2 sources are developed, hydrogen can be sourced from refineries for fuel cell applications Being an agro based country, India has large potential for biomass gasification to produce hydrogen for different applications There is a potential to produce hydrogen through other routes like solar, wind, MSW gasification etc. The experience so gained can be utilized to develop best safety practices for handling hydrogen

Its the HY time