Robust Lubrication is a Critical Enabler of India’s Clean Energy Ambition

Innovative lubricant solutions are being developed to ensure optimum equipment protection and oil performance in a wide range of conditions, including onshore, offshore, dry or wet, and at high or low temperatures to ensure that turbines keep running at peak efficiency.

November 09, 2023. By News Bureau

India is at the cusp of a clean energy revolution. The winds of change have been blowing, gathering momentum ever since the official declaration that the country aims to be Net Zero by 2070. The past two years have witnessed a surge in clean energy announcements – not only policy frameworks that encourage wind, solar and green hydrogen – but also the increased participation of the private sector in tapping the potential of renewables.
India’s position in its clean energy transition journey is clear: The country sees it as an enormous economic opportunity that can create a robust USD 80 billion market by 2030. This has also underlined the need to rapidly transform its energy sector infrastructure, which also calls for an investment of USD 12.7 trillion in its energy systems to achieve net zero emissions.
As new investments in natural gas, solar and wind power gather momentum, the need for a support architecture – especially for the maintenance of critical machinery – becomes a strategic imperative. It is also important to unlock the potential offered by machine learning, which brings several benefits – such as reduced emissions and increased renewable energy adoption by proactively addressing the unpredictability of clean energy sources such as wind and solar that are intermittent.
Lubricants for powerful performance
With most clean energy plants, such as wind farms, located in remote locations and in corrosive environments, regular maintenance and predictive monitoring are critical for optimal performance. Especially for this, use of quality lubricant becomes a prerequisite for seamless turbine operations.
Wind farms today generate over 43.7 GW of clean energy as of June 2023, and are expected to add 22GW by 2027. The wind energy infrastructure is also rapidly evolving, as advanced wind-blades enter commercial operation. Now, to ensure continuity and reduced downtime, especially with the difficulties in accessing wind turbines, quality industrial lubricants, wind turbine lubrication services and application expertise can enhance lubrication intervals, minimise unscheduled maintenance, and enhance equipment life and productivity.
Innovative lubricant solutions are also being developed to ensure optimum equipment protection and oil performance in a wide range of conditions, including onshore, offshore, dry or wet, and at high or low temperatures to ensure that turbines keep running at peak efficiency. Another clean source of power that is being leveraged to enhance clean energy capacity is natural gas, with the government announcing plans to strengthen its share from 6 per cent of the total energy mix to 15 per cent by 2030 through a slew of initiatives including the expansion of the National Gas Grid Pipeline, the expansion of the City Gas Distribution network and setting up Liquified Natural Gas terminals, among others.
The gas plants also operate under challenging environments, in addition to the efficiency of the natural gas engine directly impacting productivity, operating costs and profit potential. High-performance lubricants are critical to increase fuel efficiency while protecting equipment protection and gas engine efficiency. They also deliver enhanced wear protection and deposit control, which will minimise oil consumption and ensure engine cleanliness.

Conventional power plants, which continue to power bulk of the country’s energy needs, even as they explore newer pathways to cut emissions, also encounter challenges with their turbines exposed to high temperatures, heavy load, and wet and dusty conditions.
They are also impacted by varnish and organic deposits within the turbines, compressors and hydraulic systems, as well as issues such as re-adhesion, filter plugging, oil line flow blockage and more. Ensuring that the circulation systems and gas compressors are lubricated for seamless performance is critical for their operational efficiency – and in meeting the load-carrying requirements of the geared turbines.
For seamless operations
Additionally, high-performance turbine oils can mitigate operational challenges in large frame turbines under severe operating conditions. With different types of turbines being deployed, it is essential to focus on lubricants that guarantee exceptional protection even in extreme conditions, help limit maintenance resistance to micropitting and scuffing, and helps enhance equipment life.
The flipside of negligence can be costly: Apart from unscheduled downtimes and mounting expenses on machinery and maintenance, any structural failures in turbine and machinery operations – be they at wind farms or solar plants – will push back clean energy ambitions, as a result of lowered output and the preventable financial burden. Keeping the systems clean, covering all parameters such as thermal oxidation stability, anti-wear protection, resistance to foaming, can only achieved through timely lubrication.
With continuous product innovation to meet the emerging requirements of its growing renewable energy sector and timely deployment of advanced lubricant solutions, India can accelerate its clean energy transition – in addition to advancing self-sufficiency in the energy sector, which will be another hallmark of Aatmanirbhar Bharat.

- Shantanu Sharma, General Manager - Brand Marketing South AP, ExxonMobil Lubricants Pvt. Ltd.
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