Niti Aayog pushes methanol-based hybrid vehicles

Niti Aayog pushes for methanol-based hybrid vehicles

11:09 AM, 2nd January 2018
Next generation of methanol fuel cell vehicles sees the light of day. © Serenergy A/S
Next generation of methanol fuel cell vehicles sees the light of day. © Serenergy A/S

NEW DELHI, INDIA: Indian government's premier policy-making body, Niti Aayog, has firmed up a hybrid vehicle policy that challenges the electric vehicle mission that's being pursued aggressively, pitching methanol as a better alternative for the country.

The Aayog has reasoned that electric vehicles are neither cost-effective nor sustainable. Methanol-based hybrid vehicles, it proposes, would run on electricity that would be generated on board from the chemical. This would not put additional pressure on electricity demand in the country.

The crux of the reasoning is that methanol can replace gasoline as it is easily available, does not cause pollution and has higher electrical mobility and efficiency, besides being highly cost-effective vis-a-vis electric vehicles, which would run on lithium-ion batteries. It would reduce pollution and India's dependence on fossil fuels.

Methanol, a clear, colourless liquid, is easier to store than hydrogen and burns cleaner than fossil fuels, yielding water and carbon dioxide. Methanol can be obtained from sustainable bio sources and it is now also possible to manufacture synthetic, low carbon methanol.

"Lithium is not an easily available resource and the world will run out of the basic resource if all switch over to lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles. Hence, it is not a sustainable solution," a government official said.

Besides, India does not have the expertise to make lithium-ion batteries and will depend on China for such batteries and will only be able to assemble them in India with barely 15 percent of value addition, thus further widening the trade deficit in favour of China.

Niti Aayog member, VK Saraswat is aggressively pushing methanol and has suggested a roadmap to reduce the annual oil import bill by $100 billion by 2030 through extensive use of methanol in cooking gas and transportation fuel. Even the Indian Railways is exploring the use of methanol for its locomotives.

The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government wants only cleaner vehicles to ply on India's roads by 2030 as part of its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the global agreement on climate change and to reduce spending on oil imports, which, according to one estimate, could double to an annual $300 billion by that year.

© Worldofchemicals News

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