KOCHI: Much has been discussed about the recent National Green Tribunal (NGT) order banning diesel vehicles in the state, but it seems the focus of these talks should have been about moving towards a compressed natural gas (CNG) regime. Since Kochi is home to the only Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal in South India at Puthuvypeen, the prospects for a clean fuel is brighter in the state.
A Cleaner, Greener Fuel
Compressed natural gas (CNG) (methane stored at high pressure) can be used in place of fossil fuels like gasoline (petrol), diesel and propane or LPG. CNG combustion produces fewer undesirable gases than other fuels. It is safer than other fuels in the event of a spill, because natural gas is lighter than air and disperses quickly when released. CNG is found above oil deposits, or can be collected from landfills or wastewater treatment plants where it is known as biogas.
With Petronet and Adani Gas expressing their willingness to open CNG fuel stations in Ernakulam district, experts point out that it is high-time that the state looks at this greener option.
“Buying CNG vehicles for KSRTC was part of a plan to introduce natural gas in the state, but it didn’t take off due to various reasons. There was also a proposal to convert a number of autorickshaws in the city into CNG ones. Due to various reasons, all these projects did not materialise. With the NGT order, the state has to begin looking at the option in a more realistic way as we can’t solely rely on existing fuels,” said M P Sukumaran Nair, an energy expert and director, Centre for Green Technology and Management.
The LNG pipeline project has received a major boost from the new LDF government as Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has already expressed the government’s willingness to implement the project in the state. It may be recalled that the LNG pipeline project is facing local resistance in Malappuram, Kozhikode and Kannur districts.
At present only less than five per cent of the five million metric tonne capacity of the Rs 4,500 crore LNG terminal is being used. Petronet LNG incurs a loss of Rs 400 crore every year due to the under utilisation of the terminal.
According to Prabhat Singh, managing director, Petronet LNG, the project will be completed in two years and added that he was assured by the Kerala Chief Minister that all the roadblocks that hindered the completion of the project will removed.
The company is also exploring the possibility of setting up a CNG station near Puthuvypeen LNG terminal to supply fuel to vehicles in the city.