ARAI receives 13 bids for green hydrogen pilot projects | Autocar Professional

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The Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) has received thirteen technical bids for pilot projects for the use of green hydrogen in the transport sector. 

ARAI, the implementing agency for these projects, is currently conducting a technical evaluation of the proposals, Autocar Professional has exclusively learned. An allocation of Rs 496 crore has been made for green hydrogen and other related projects until 2025-26.

The bidding consortium is believed to include OEMs, hydrogen fuel suppliers,  distributors, and other partners as required. Autocar Professional could not independently ascertain the names of the bidding companies. 

This development comes on the back of a growing global focus on hydrogen as a clean fuel alternative for the automotive industry. For India, the successful implementation of these pilots will be crucial in assessing the feasibility and scalability of green hydrogen for transportation. The tenders will likely encompass various aspects, from infrastructure development for hydrogen fuelling stations to demonstration projects involving hydrogen-powered vehicles across different segments.

The initiative proposes setting the stage for hydrogen-powered transportation with the concept of “Hydrogen Highways.” Chandigarh-Delhi-Jaipur,  Ahmedabad-Mumbai-Pune, Chennai – Hosur-Bengaluru, Kolkata-Jamshedpur-Ranchi, and Nagpur – Indore are some of the major routes, that are likely to be included as part of the pilot project. These designated routes will prioritise the development of green hydrogen production facilities, distribution infrastructure, and refuelling stations. This move targets heavy-duty, long-haul vehicles where hydrogen holds an advantage over battery technology.

As per the Request for Proposal (RFQ) document floated by ARAI, the initiative is aimed at supporting the deployment of Hydrogen-powered buses, trucks and cars, in a phased manner on a pilot basis. Financial assistance will be provided to close the viability gap due to the relatively higher capital cost of hydrogen-powered vehicles in the initial years. The learnings from the pilot projects will help inter-city bus and truck operators (including State Transport Undertakings), and private car users gain experience with the deployment and usage of hydrogen-powered vehicles and refuelling technologies.

The expenses on account of hydrogen production, land, operational and maintenance expenses, among others, will not be funded under this scheme, the documents noted.

The scope of work involving hydrogen-powered vehicles includes the mandate to run on the selected routes for 24 months, covering a total mileage of at least 60,000 km. The selected vehicles will be tested for their performance, emissions and on-road safety during the trials. The submission of the final report about the pilots is expected to be completed by April 2026. 

The Rs 19,744 crore Green Hydrogen mission 

The pilot projects, a part of India’s National Green Hydrogen Mission, which was unveiled on January 4, 2023, aim to become a global leader in the production, use, and export of this clean fuel. With a budget of Rs 19,744 crore, the mission seeks to turn India into a green hydrogen hub, reducing reliance on fossil fuel imports and positioning the country as a technology and market leader in this burgeoning sector.

This initiative also aligns with India’s push for self-sufficiency, or “Aatmanirbharta,” through clean energy.

Green hydrogen is emerging as a potential gamechanger in the transportation sector. The falling costs of renewable energy and electrolysers are expected to propel green-hydrogen vehicles into cost competitiveness over the next few years, according to industry analysts. This shift could disrupt the transportation landscape, especially for long-haul applications where battery technology faces limitations.

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has issued scheme guidelines for the pilot projects under which the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) and the Scheme Implementing Agencies (SIAs) such as ARAI will be monitoring and implementing agencies for the trials.

 

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