Power sector is a key pillar of the Indian Economy, intricately connected with the goal of $5 Trillion economy and Atmanirbhar Bharat. Recognising its importance, the Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, in the 2021 Budget has announced a significant roll-out. While renewable energy, DISCOMs, and solar energy are the buzzwords, a lesser-known technology that saw light was Green Hydrogen fuel.
The technology is based on the generation of Hydrogen through electrolysis by using electricity produced from a clean source. This implies greenhouse gases like Carbon-dioxideCarbon-dioxide are not a by-product at any stage. India has been planning to build Green Hydrogen plants since the end of 2020. They will run on electricity produced by green energy sources while helping reduce dependence on fossil fuels. They will provide grid-scale solutions, as well as feedstock for ammonia production. India is also one among the 16 participants, in the “Mission Innovation Renewable and Clean Hydrogen Challenge”. This element can serve as a transition from non-renewable energy sources to green energy, even in the most resource heavy industry like cement, chemicals, oil, and gas. Certain forecasts say Hydrogen will be the choice of fuel across one fourth of the energy domain by 2030. BloombergNEF estimates that green hydrogen will be available at between $0.8 and $1.0 per kilogram soon.
Policy support and financial allocation by the union government is key to moving towards clean energy. The government in its Union Budget has allocated Rs 1,500 crore for Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) and the National Hydrogen Mission in 2021-22 for generating Hydrogen from green energy sources. Supporting the government’s move Mr. Kush S, CEO, Essar Power notes:
“₹ 1,500 crore to the Renewable Energy sector is also a welcome move and will help the country in achieving the ambitious target of 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by the year 2022. These measures and reforms will definitely help improve the health of the sector and enhance growth in the coming few years.”
Given the strong support of the government policy by industry specialists, there must be rational reasons as to why this fuel can be more useful than conventional fuel:
· Hydrogen is a 100 % sustainable energy source. In fact, that term Green Hydrogen implies the energy production does not emit polluting gases in the production processes.
· Green Hydrogen can be stored easily, like any other gas. It can be subsequently used for other purposes, be it in the vicinity or through transportation.
· After it is stored, it can be easily used to produce electricity which can then be used for domestic, transportation, commercial, and industrial purposes.
· Green hydrogen can be mixed with the natural gas, up to a maximum of 20 %. It can also be transported through the same pipes and in the same infrastructure as natural gas. This also implies economic use of money invested in development.
· This gas can also be used to provide water to the crew members in space stations.
· Transport and mobility is a key use of Green Hydrogen, be it in heavy transportation, or aviation and maritime transport.
· Solar and wind energy experience fluctuation based on local weather and global climate. Green Hydrogen as a fuel can serve as a buffer and shield against these fluctuations.
· It is a viable source of energy for areas that do not have stores of any source of energy.
Realising the importance of this fuel, several green hydrogen projects are already underway in Hycarus and Cryoplane (airway infrastructure platform), which is promoted by the European Union. Iberdrola (a Spanish electric utility company) launched the largest plant producing green hydrogen for the industry in Europe. Hydrogen as a fuel is being used across USA, China, Russia, France and Germany. Countries like Japan have expressed desire to become a hydrogen economy in the times to come. With the cost of renewable sources coming down, the popularity of this gas in energy is expected to increase.
Specifically in India, National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) is considering setting up a green hydrogen production facility in Andhra Pradesh. The ministry of Road Transport and Highways has issued a notification proposing amendments to the Central Motor Vehicles Rules (1989) to incorporate safety standards for hydrogen fuel cell technology vehicles. Reliance industries has declared it will become carbon neutral by 2035, by replacing transportation fuels with Hydrogen and clean electricity.
Decarbonising the planet is a goal many countries around the world have set for achieving by 2050. Green Hydrogen is an upcoming technology, which can function as a viable alternative for an ever-expanding population dependent mainly on non-renewables since a long time.