India is aiming to convert 100mn t of thermal coal into synthetic natural gas and chemical products in the coming decade, as part of its broader push to promote cleaner sources of energy.
A total investment of 4 trillion rupees ($55bn) is envisaged in coal gasification and liquefaction by 2030, coal minister Pralhad Joshi said late yesterday. India produced 729.10mn t of coal in the financial year that ended 31 March, according to coal ministry data.
Coal gasification is the process of converting coal into syngas — a mixture of carbon monoxide, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, natural gas, and water vapour, according to the IEA Clean Coal Centre, a London-based information and analysis provider.
The syngas can be processed to produce energy fuel as well as products such as urea. In direct coal liquefaction, coal can be directly processed to produce liquid hydrocarbons. This plan “is no more an aspiration, but a requirement,” the minister said, underscoring the country’s heavy reliance on crude oil imports.
To encourage companies to set up such projects, the coal ministry has devised a policy that will give a concession of 20pc on revenue sharing in the upcoming auction of coal blocks for commercial mining, if the coal produced will be used for gasification and liquefaction, Joshi said.
A panel of senior government officials will be formed to support the growth of coal gasification and liquefaction projects in the country.
State-controlled coal producer Coal India (CIL) is part of a proposed joint-venture coal-gasification and fertilizer project in the eastern state of Odisha. The project is facing potential [delays amid the Covid-19 pandemic and tensions between Delhi and Beijing given the contractor is a China-based firm. CIL plans to set up at least three joint-venture gasification plants in the country, the ministry said. The company is already working on plans to build a coal-to-methanol project.