Methanol for carbon neutrality

This could help achieve carbon neutrality and tackle health hazards due to the worsening air pollution in cities.

Published: 16th December 2021 07:29 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th December 2021 07:29 AM   |  A+A-

Carbon free energy. (For representational purpose only)

In its fight to considerably reduce the carbon footprint, India has a vast potential and can exploit methanol to support a challenges-ridden hydrogen economy. Recently, the Centre had announced its ambitious National Hydrogen Energy Mission (NHEM) in the Union Budget 2021, where it is eyeing a future in which the element would play a vital role in India’s transition to an environment-friendly energy consumption culture. This could help achieve carbon neutrality and tackle health hazards due to the worsening air pollution in cities.

While the target is to produce about 80% of India’s hydrogen from renewable electricity by 2050, there are challenges. Apart from enhancing India’s renewable energy capacity, other challenges pertain to the cost of production, storage, transport and its safety concerns as hydrogen is highly volatile. This makes it imperative to have in place a capital-intensive—and more expensive—infrastructure to ensure safe storage, transport and production. In the background of these challenges lies India’s contribution of 2.48 billion tonnes of CO2 in 2019—7% of the global emissions. Besides, the country’s rising carbon footprint and oil and gas import bills pose concerns as the demand for energy keeps growing. The country—ranked third in power consumption—is expected to see a twofold increase in its primary energy demand by 2040. In its efforts to meet this demand, renewable energy is forecast to increase to 70% of the fresh capacity expansion over the next five years.

Given this scenario, there is a push for methanol as a solution to support the developing hydrogen economy for the future. Methanol, a hydrogen carrier with low carbon intensity, can be carbon neutral when produced from sustainable feedstock like municipal solid waste, agricultural waste and captured CO2. With the highest hydrogen to carbon ratio in any liquid fuel, methanol can act as a storage carrier for hydrogen adoption immediately, circumventing challenges associated with logistics. Very little electricity is needed to derive hydrogen from methanol, as against water electrolysis. Besides, methanol fuel cells can extend the range of an electric vehicle to about 1,000 km. It is time methanol is used to achieve carbon neutrality.


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