L&T, which today announced a tie-up with the French company McPhy, for technology for electrolyser manufacture, will be present in both segments of the green hydrogen ecosystem – electrolyser manufacturing and production of the gas, the company’s Whole-time Director and Senior Executive Vice-President (Energy), Subramanian Sarma, told businessline today.  

Subramanian Sarma, Whole-time Director and Senior Executive Vice-President (Energy), L&T

Subramanian Sarma, Whole-time Director and Senior Executive Vice-President (Energy), L&T | Photo Credit:

But the company is starting its hydrogen innings with electrolyser manufacturing. The tie-up with McPhy is, for the present, only a technology service agreement, under which the French company would transfer the ‘pressurised alkaline electrolyser’ technology to L&T. A call on McPhy co-investing in electrolyser manufacture could be taken later, Sarma said. 

The electrolyser plant will come up at L&T’s manufacturing hub at Hazira, Gujarat. The precise amount of investment into the plant is yet to be worked out, but will be a part of the ₹10,000-crore grand plan for L&T’s foray into green hydrogen. 

Alkaline vs PEM tech

Sarma said that groundbreaking for the electrolyser plant could happen as early as in April. Asked why L&T chose ‘alkaline’ technology — which is said to be dated, power-guzzling and less safe — Sarma said that the other technology, PEM, is not fully well-established yet. (A similar view has been often expressed by SSV Ramakumar, Director-R&D, Indian Oil Corporation.) Both technologies have pros and cons. However, “we will start with alkaline now and can always get into PEM later,” Sarma said. 

He said that McPhy’s alkaline technology was more advanced, because it is a ‘pressurised’ electrolyser and therefore more energy efficient and can handle fluctuating power loads. The safety issues around the alkaline technology have all be considered and addressed, he said.