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GAIL of India sets net zero target for 2040

© Shutterstock / mrinalpalGail building in India.

India’s gas transmission group GAIL has announced plans to reduce  Scope 1 & 2 emissions by 100% by 2040, with a target of 35% in Scope 3. 

GAIL strives for sustainability in its footprint and takes on the net zero challenge by 2040.

The move follows the trend of other petroleum companies in India to set net zero targets.

Whilst it is to be admired that a national company is going for a net zero mission thirty years ahead of national targets, India’s appetite for coal and oil shows no abating.

While the wider emissions targets lack bite, they could be considered a signal for best practice against a backdrop of national reluctance to adopt Paris Agreement targets.

What is GAIL’s business and what does net zero and sustainability mean to it?

 GAIL was incorporated in 1984 under the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas (MoP&NG) to build and operate a trans-national pipeline, Hazira – Vijaypur – Jagdishpur (HVJ). It was one of the largest cross-country natural gas pipeline projects in the world, 1750-kilometre-long.

Although it now has business verticals in liquified natural gas, petrochemicals and renewable energy, its principal business is the transmission of gas. The company supplies gas to power plants for the generation of over 4,000 MW of power to the fertilizer plants for the production of 10 million tonnes of urea and to several other industries. 

It has six gas processing (LPG) plants, with the capacity to produce nearly 1 million tpa of LPG. GAIL has also set up several compressor stations for boosting the gas pressure to desired levels for its customers and internal users.

Gas as clean energy

Green hydrogen is useful ‘clean’ option for GAIL since it can be piped and that is what the company is exploring. It has started selling hydrogen blended gas in central India.

GAIL is not so involved in gas production as India has almost no indigenous gas fields. The company aims to set up 3 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2030. 

In an indication of how gas is seen as clean in India, GAIL was proud to associate its interest in shale gas as part of a clean strategy, announcing that in diversifying its basket, it is “actively pursuing opportunities for acquisition of shale gas assets in overseas countries and making efforts to shift to a cleaner future.”

Meaning of sustainability for GAIL

Sustainability for GAIL means  “managing the available resources to optimize operations for greater safety, reliability, efficiency, environmental and social awareness.”

It is installing energy-efficient units in some of its operations, and has registered 64 sustainability projects for FY 20-21. It has also signed an agreement for setting up a Compressed Biogas (CBG) plant for processing 150 tonnes per day (tpd) of Organic Municipal Solid Waste (MSW).

On the corporate social responsibility side it has a high HSE score, 96.98 and has a score of 96 on the customer satisfaction index. It has a 130 MW renewable energy portfolio (116 MW win and 12.26 MW solar.)

How is gas positioned in India?

India’s energy production landscape is characterised by dirty lignite coal. Prime Minister Narendra Modi kaiboshed the COP26 Glasgow climate pledge to phase out coal, only agreeing to “phase down” coal. His target for net zero for India is 2070.  Recently the country came forward with stronger Paris Agreement compliance targets in its Nationally Determined Contributions.

The Energy and Resources Institute of India, TERI, has collaborated with Shell to produce a report on whether the energy sector can be fully decarbonised in India. They have developed a Net-Zero Emissions (NZE) scenario, exploring this question.

It foresees a quadrupling of natural gas demand from 2020 to 2040 as industry shifts away from coal. Gas is currently mainly used in compressed form in transport.

India is currently dependent on coal, oil and traditional biomass for its energy needs, but solar becomes the dominant energy source in the late 2030s in the NZE scenario. This builds on recent developments in India where solar generation has increased sharply, up by nearly 30% in 2018 alone.  The scenario says that the 2020s will need to see the emergence of offshore wind, as well as a tripling of onshore wind capacity and a 50% increase in nuclear. 

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