With a rise in the sales of electric vehicles, GAIL India, the country’s largest gas transportation and marketing company, plans to set up battery charging stations for electric vehicles as well as build solar plants as it looks to be “future ready” for emerging businesses, a senior company official said. It also wants to explore the business opportunity in waste-water treatment plants, water distribution, large water pipeline laying as an early mover.
“We have the country’s biggest network of pipelines and gas marketing infrastructure. We want to leverage for emerging business opportunities,” he said. “We want to be future ready.” It is looking at possibilities of setting up battery charging stations for e-vehicles at CNG dispensing stations in a bid to diversify its portfolio beyond gas and petrochemicals. “It is all at drawing board stage. A lot will depend on norms. For example, we don’t know if rules permit a battery charging facility at a petrol pump or a CNG station. We don’t know at what price we can sell that battery charge,” he said.
GAIL wants to insert six new sections in the main objects clause of the memorandum of association of the company to foray into new business. According to a shareholder notice, it wants to invest in “start-ups in core business areas (of natural gas, petrochemicals, and energy) and non-core areas (like health, social and environment, safety, and security) either directly or indirectly.”
“The investment can be made through special purpose vehicle (SPV), alternative investment fund (AIF), fund of funds (FoF) and trust,” it said. The official said there is a necessity to adopt new and different pathways to provide clean, cost-effective and efficient mobility services that are safe, reduce dependence on oil imports and achieve more efficient land-use in cities with the least environmental footprints and impacts on human health.
With the objective in mind, the firm wants to set up “battery charging stations and provide charging services” to electric vehicles. With the government planning to make a major shift to electric vehicles by 2030, GAIL feels that charging infrastructure for electric vehicles in India has not been fully developed yet.
GAIL with its “pan-India presence through the natural gas network is deep-pocketed and has the capability of setting up charging infrastructure at a faster pace,” he said. The 34th annual general meeting of the company is scheduled for September 11. With depletion of groundwater and monsoons becoming less predictable and unreliable, availability and utilisation of water are becoming key issues in modern India. Many cities are sourcing the fresh water through long-distance transport ranging from 50-200 km.
Stating that with growing population and industrialisation, the effluent water discharged has increased significantly, GAIL in the notice said the treatment of the effluent water and maintaining of the freshwater table is a big challenge and a business opportunity. It is also looking to “harness solar power potential available at its various sites and installations which can be connected to grid for sale or for own use at other installations through wheeling of power.”
In line with its strategy to promote the use of green fuel, it is contemplating to promote gas appliances in households to increase gas usage and minimise electric usage in housing equipment and appliances such as gas boiler, gas-based air conditioner and bathroom heater.
Operating nearly 14,000-km of natural gas and LPG pipeline and executing more than 4,500 km of new lines, GAIL feels it can provide services such as engineering, procurement and construction (EPC), engineering, procurement, construction management (EPCM) and project management consultancy (PMC) in the field of hydrocarbon pipelines.
“GAIL also has adequate experienced manpower and infrastructure for providing these services,” the notice said. It also wants to “carry on the business of manufacture, import, distribution, and marketing of appliances relating to gas marketing and distribution, such as gas meter and CNG kits”