New Delhi: Sweating during frequent power cuts? You may soon be able to use natural gas-run air-conditioners at home.
Indraprastha Gas Ltd., an arm of state-owned gas utility Gail (India) Ltd will soon introduce air-conditioners running on gas in collaboration with a few New Zealand-based manufacturers in a bid to increase gas consumption in the country, managing director E.S. Ranganathan said.
The gas utility, which has 6.5 lakh customers for piped gas in the national capital region and has a target of reaching 11 lakh in three years, is trying to create new markets for gas by diversifying into appliances running on the clean fuel. It has already started promoting gas-run power generators in institutions and residential complexes which replace costly and polluting diesel generation sets.
The move is part of the oil ministry’s plan to shift towards a gas-based economy in which the clean fuel will replace diesel and coal for power generation and petrol and diesel for transportation (by way of condensed natural gas or CNG). Government wants the share of gas in the hydrocarbon mix to go up from about 7% now to 25% in a few years.
“Our business development group is working on introducing air conditioners and geysers running on gas. This will be useful in areas such as Ghaziabad in the national capital region or Rewari in Haryana, where there are four hours of power cut,” said Ranganathan.
IGL’s idea is to introduce a cost effective air conditioner, which will enable the consumer to recover the cost in a short time from savings on power consumption. “There are some overseas manufacturers of gas engine air conditioners. We will tie up with those producers who can market it here and when it catches on, they can start manufacturing here,” said Ranganathan.
IGL has called a meeting of leading domestic and multinational producers of gas based power generators to draw up a financing scheme for consumers. More than IGL, it will be producers of gas-based appliances who will benefit from an evolving gas market, said Ranganathan. The cost of power from a diesel-run generator is about Rs19, while a gas based one could produce power for about Rs6-7 a unit.
The average piped natural gas (PNG) consumption per household for cooking is about half a cubic meter a day, which translates to a monthly bill of about Rs360.
With a target of adding 1.5 lakh customers every year, IGL is spending Rs300 crore this year and another Rs350 crore in the next to add more CNG stations and to lay more pipelines. The oil ministry has a target of raising PNG customers from 39 lakh now in the country to one crore in a few years.
With gas consumption going up, IGL may have to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) to meet demand in the future. According to Kalpana Jain, senior director, Deloitte in India, at least in the foreseeable future, the country will remain dependent on imports for gas. “For the moment, the going seems to be really good and all the projections seem to suggest that gas price is not going to go through the roof. Going by the investments flowing to construction of LNG import terminals and pipelines, there is a strong case for placing gas as a significant part in our clean energy portfolio,” said Jain.