Green Hydrogen Roadmap for India’s Economic Development

Green hydrogen India

Green hydrogen has become the talk of the country these days. The world is in dire need of a clean, renewable, and alternative source of energy to attain the zero-emissions goal by 2050 in order to curb GHG emissions and stop global warming before the end of the century. Amidst this, the government of India has approved the National Green Hydrogen Mission. It is a very big step towards attaining India’s plan of decarbonising major industrial sectors and transportation. The mission has great potential to help India attain its zero-emission target while boosting economic growth. With the green hydrogen mission, India is expected to emerge as a world leader in the sector of renewable energy. Let us understand the what and how of the green hydrogen mission.

What is the national green hydrogen mission?

The energy demand in India has been mounting because of rapid urbanisation and industrial growth. India’s energy demand is likely to increase by many folds in the coming time with India’s aspiration for industrial development and technological advancement. The main sectors with the highest energy demands are the industrial sector (iron, steel, construction, etc.) and the transport sector. Unfortunately, these sectors still derive 80% of their energy from fossil fuels triggering the import demand and a major sieve for economic development. The national green hydrogen mission is designed to increase commercial production of green hydrogen for export purposes as well as use at home by channelising increased funding to the sector.  It aims at developing an infrastructure for the production of at least 5 million metric tonnes of green hydrogen per year. The main objectives of the mission are to make India energy independent and decarbonize its industrial and transportation sectors. The smooth energy transition requires collaboration between the policymakers and the industrial players, and the announcement of the national green hydrogen mission is a major milestone toward this clean energy transition. 

What is a green hydrogen economy?

Energy demand and production control the economic dynamic of any country. With the increased use of green hydrogen, the dependency on fossil fuel-based energy sources is likely to decrease. Green hydrogen is produced with the help of electricity generated using renewable sources such as wind, hydro, solar, etc. Any country with basic infrastructure for these renewable sources can produce green hydrogen. At present, the cost of manufacturing green hydrogen is slightly high (4-8 €/ Kg depending upon the region), but it is likely to come down as electricity production from renewable sources becomes cheaper. Thus, any country that is able to produce large quantities of hydrogen at an affordable rate will have no dependency on fossil fuel, eliminating the expenditure required for its import. Moreover, the country can also become a hub for hydrogen production and export and boost economic growth. This is also going to generate new employment opportunities in the country. This is how hydrogen is predicted to control the economic system globally. 

Challenges with green hydrogen production and wide usage

The basic process for the production of hydrogen fuel is either via steam-methane reforming or electrolysis of water. Although steam-methane reforming is relatively cheaper, it contributes to GHG emissions hence not sustainable and clean. The process of hydrolysis requires electricity which can be generated conventionally from fossil fuel or using renewable sources of energy. Thus, one of the most challenging aspects of the green hydrogen economy is bringing down the cost of production. Moreover, the transport and storage of hydrogen is quite difficult and bears significant costs due to its lightweight and the requirement of a cryogenic storage system. The likely solutions to this problem are either transporting hydrogen as methane gas or using an organic liquid hydrogen carrier. 

How to accelerate the production of green hydrogen at an affordable cost?

There is a whole lot of research going on to develop alternative and cost-effective methods for the production of green hydrogen and there has been some progress in the field. With the advancement in technology the cost of electricity production from renewable sources is decreasing, bringing down the cost of production for green hydrogen. Research laboratories around the world are trying to develop innovative ways to generate green hydrogen and reduce the cost of its transport and storage. India has abundant renewable resources for the production of electricity, thus making green hydrogen production cost-effectively. Another critical area that needs to be focused on is the development of skilled manpower and infrastructural facilities for the adoption of green hydrogen fuel in the domestic as well as industrial sectors.

Contribution by Indian energy companies and start-ups

The major companies involved in the production and use of green hydrogen are Reliance Industries Limited, Larsen and Turbo, Adani-group, NTPC, JSW Steel, Jindal Stainless, ONGC, etc. These companies are leading India’s green hydrogen movement. Apart from these industrial giants, some Indian start-ups are also contributing by marching towards clean energy using green hydrogen technology. 

  • h2e Power – A Pune-based cleantech start-up is generating green hydrogen and solid oxide fuel cells. The initial capacity of the plant is to produce 2MW of green hydrogen per annum. The work for a bigger state-of-the-art plant with a capacity of 100 MW per annum is in progress.  
  • NewTrace – It is a Bengaluru-based start-up that has developed an innovative electrolyser technology to produce green hydrogen at a lower cost. This new electrolyser uses around 70% less raw material, thus bringing down the production cost significantly. Their mission is to provide clean energy solutions to commercial as well as residential ecosystems. 
  • Hygenco – It is a Gurugram-based cleantech company installing green hydrogen and green ammonia-powered industrial solutions. They have been developing commercially attractive green hydrogen and green ammonia assets at large-scale and affordable prices. They aim to provide the design and solution for the effective transport and application of hydrogen fuel. 

The approval of the national green hydrogen mission by the government of India is an excellent opportunity for Indian companies and start-ups to increase green hydrogen production and boost their funding. The government as well as industrial giants are investing heavily in the green hydrogen sector, thus it is a critical window for the Indian start-up ecosystem to grow and flourish in this sector. It is only through the collaborative efforts of the government, industrial giants, and start-ups that India can emerge as the leader of the green superpower. 

By Amruta Joshi

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