A company majority-owned by the billionaire Adani family and French energy giant Total is to start blending green hydrogen into a section of India’s gas distribution network as soon as April next year.

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Adani Total Gas Limited (ATGL), plans to introduce the green hydrogen into a network serving 4,000 properties in Ahmedabad, the largest city in the state of Gujarat, gradually ramping up to a blend of 8% H2.

However, the speed at which it arrives at 8% will depend on how quickly it can secure regulatory approvals, ADGL said.

The first injection will take place in “Q1 of FY2024-5”, implying the first quarter of the financial year (April-June), rather than the calendar year.

The company claims that the 8% blend will result in emissions reductions of “up to 4%” — significantly higher than those estimated by the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), which found that a hydrogen blend of 20% would result in emissions savings of just 7% “at best”, and by extension a blend of 10% would result in emissions savings of 3.5%.

Once the pilot is completed — and ATGL has not said how long this will take — the company plans to extend the blending programme to other parts of the city.

ATGL has not revealed where it will source green hydrogen from. Adani and Total have previously agreed to build an electrolyser in Gujarat — where Adani currently owns and operates a solar module manufacturing facility, which it plans to adapt to produce electrolysis equipment.

Around 75% of the shares in ATGL are owned by Total and India’s richest family, the Adanis, who also own the Adani conglomerate, which has interests across a vast range of sectors, including energy, agriculture and manufacturing. The remaining shares in ATGL are owned by smaller institutional investors and funds.

“We are fully committed towards building an environmentally sustainable operation and this project represents our ongoing dedication towards national infrastructure building for India to become energy independent by 2047,” said Suresh P Manglani, CEO of Adani Total Gas. “This project will reduce our carbon footprint and by investing in such innovative projects, we are actively contributing to the evolution of the industry and driving progress in sustainable energy solutions.”

Hydrogen blending trials are already under way in the US, Netherlands and Germany, with similar pilots being planned in Australia and South Korea.

Meanwhile, Portugal is mandating that gas suppliers will have to blend at least 1% renewable H2 — or biomethane — into their networks.

The notion of blending hydrogen into gas networks has been heavily criticised by many organisations, outside of the gas industry, with Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute saying it would be “expensive and wasteful” and increase consumer bills by up to 43% — higher than both the 33% predicted by German think-tank Agora Energiewende, and the 20% forecast by UK think-tank E3G, which describes blending as “greenwash” due to its limited CO2 reduction.

E3G went on to say that blending will not strategically stimulate demand for hydrogen, as some have argued, but instead could risk the UK’s entire decarbonisation goals by locking-in unsuspecting customers to polluting fossil-fuel boilers.