Mumbai: Wary of being left behind in the race for renewables and electric vehicles, oil marketing companies are quietly drawing up plans to expand their modest presence in renewable energy space.
Indian Oil Corp. Ltd, the largest of the three big oil marketers, is exploring opportunities for setting up battery charging stations and battery replacement facilities for electric vehicles in its petrol pumps. “We are also looking at opportunities for manufacturing and retailing lithium-ion batteries," the company said in its annual report for 2016-17.
The centre is pushing solar and wind energy as well as electric vehicles, to curb oil imports and pollution, and meet its commitments under the Paris accord on climate change. India pledged to reduce carbon emissions relative to its gross domestic product by 33-35% from 2005 levels by 2030, under the accord.
India also pledged that by 2030, 40% of the country’s electricity would come from non-fossil fuel-based sources such as wind and solar power.
By 2021-22, Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd (BPCL) sees 5% of its revenue coming from non-fossil fuel sources.
BPCL has shortlisted 10 oil depots and liquified petroleum gas bottling plants for installation of rooftop solar plants. By March 2017, rooftop solar units had been installed in 1,001 of its retail outlets. BPCL is carrying out a detailed feasibility and system design study at 19 company-owned and company-operated retail outlets in a pilot for solarizing (putting solar panels) large-format retail outlets, the firm said in its annual report for 2016-17.
“It is envisaged that such rooftop solar plants will reduce conventional electricity consumption and also achieve greenhouse gas emission reduction," the company added. BPCL’s chairman and managing director said after the company’s annual general meeting on 12 September that electric vehicles would start proliferating soon.
“...we need to understand the extent to which it is going to disrupt the market," he said.
“For electric vehicles, an entire ecosystem has to be created. In addition to meeting demand and supply, one has to look at the support system like evolution of battery technology, charging stations etc. I think going forward there will be co-existence of electric vehicles as well as fuel-based vehicles."
Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd (HPCL) is strengthening its presence in natural gas and renewables to align its business to the changing patterns of demand and seeking to tap potential opportunities.
HPCL operates wind farms of 100.9MW capacity installed in Rajasthan and Maharashtra.
The company, like its peers, does not see electric vehicles to be a challenge to oil marketers. “For electrical cars to make a significant dent in the fossil fuel market, it will take time," Mukesh Kumar Surana, chairman and managing director of HPCL, said after the annual general meeting on 15 September. “We as a company periodically keep on reviewing our portfolio and when an opportunity arises in the segment, we will look at it," he added.