Indian oil giant plans $10bn spend on green hydrogen and ammonia projects by 2035
State-owned ONGC targets two million tonnes a year of NH3 production, with eye to using alkaline electrolysers first
ONGC, India’s largest state-owned oil & gas company, is planning to spend 800bn-850bn rupees ($9.6bn-10.2bn) on developing two million tonnes of green ammonia annual production capacity by 2035.
The firm’s head of renewables, Harsh Nupur Joshi, revealed the investment plan in an interview with Indian business newspaper the Economic Times, in which he outlined the ambition to develop two projects, each one million tonnes a year, mainly in partnership with other companies.
“Partnering with companies which have expertise in handling such kinds of projects is required because for green ammonia and green hydrogen projects you require huge renewable-energy requirements,” he said, estimating 4.5-5GW of power would be needed to produce one million tonnes a year of ammonia.
In June 2022, ONGC announced a memorandum of understanding with renewables developer Greenko to jointly develop a 1.3GW electrolyser facility supplying one million tonnes a year of green ammonia production.
The firm has also more recently floated plans for a one-million-tonnes-a-year renewable NH3 facility in the port city of Mangalore — although it is unclear whether this is being jointly developed with Greenko or is a separate project.
However, Joshi added that “discussions are in a very advanced stage for forming an alliance”, floating a timeline of three to four months for a joint venture with an undisclosed partner to be formally set up.
“As far as the green hydrogen and green ammonia plants are concerned, they will be coming up by 2027,” he said.
ONGC has also not bid into the first Indian auction for green hydrogen or electrolyser manufacturing subsidies, likely due to the pre-close stage of its joint venture.
Joshi also noted that given alkaline electrolysers are the most mature technology, “current plants will be alkaline and maybe in the next phase, based on the results of this, it may remain alkaline only or PEM”.
When it comes to a market for green hydrogen within India, Joshi noted that while pilot studies blending H2 into gas networks — controversial among analysts as an inefficient route for decarbonisation — “is definitely a welcome step”, the actual volumes involved will be very small.
Instead, he anticipates that sufficient demand for hydrogen to support large-scale projects will come from green steelmaking or to displace grey H2 in refineries.
ONGC more broadly plans to spend 1trn rupees ($12bn) on installing 10GW of renewable energy assets by 2030, including 5GW of wind and solar, 2GW of pumped storage, and 1GW of offshore wind.