Energy independence through hydrogen 

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News: Recently, the Indian government released India’s Green hydrogen policy. It is expected to create a hydrogen economy and further boost India’s energy transition.

Further, According to The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), India’s hydrogen consumption is anticipated to leapfrog by 2050.  

What are the benefits of the hydrogen fuel in the energy sector? 

In the long run, two envisioned prominent fuels are hydrogen and electricity. Thus, Hydrogen is a new age fuel and is touted as India’s gateway to energy independence 

Hydrogen can be stored on a large scale and for a longer duration. It has the huge potential to complement renewable energy in India. 

It can accelerate India’s clean energy transition, thereby supporting India’s ambitious plan to achieve 500 GW renewable capacity by 2030. 

Hydrogen fulfils the three Es of India’s energy road map — energy security, energy sustainability and energy access. 

Hydrogen fuel can help in the decarbonisation of India’s transport sector and India’s industrial sector, like iron and steel, aluminium, copper sectors.  

In comparison, the hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are more ideal for long-haul transportation than the Li-Ion batteries. They have the capacity for faster fuelling and long-driving range. 

Hydrogen could help India to transition from the status of an energy importer to a dominant exporter over the next few decades.  

It can help in achieving the Paris Agreement’s goal to limit global warming to 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels.  

Hydrogen could lay the foundation of a new India which would be energy-independent; a global climate leader and international energy power 

It can help India achieve Prime Minister Modi’s commitment of Net Zero by 2070 in making India ‘Aatmanirbhar in energy’. 

What are the challenges ahead in boosting India’s hydrogen sector? 

The hydrogen fuel cell requires electrolysers. Therefore, India would be required to augment its electrolyser production capacity. 

The hydrogen fuel production would entail an exponential increase in electricity demand. India would require 110-130% of its current total electricity generation (2020-21) by 2050 

The hydrogen manufacturing requires a lot of water (For example, production of 1 kg of hydrogen by electrolysis requires around nine litres of water). Therefore, water scarcity could also pose a challenge. It can increase the cost of production of hydrogen fuel.  

What are the measures that can be taken for boosting the hydrogen economy in India? 

A road map for rapid growth in demand for electricity, especially from renewables should be prepared. 

Therefore, hydrogen project planning should be holistic and targeted in areas that are not water-scarce. 

India should strive to seize economic opportunity so that industry can be encouraged to its full potential 

Demand side:  

 The mature industries such as refining and fertilisers, should be mandated to buy hydrogen fuel.  

 Government should incentivise industries manufacturing low emission hydrogen-based products like green steel and green cement.

 Hydrogen can be blended with natural gas. For example, H-CNG stations can be promoted. 

 To promote FCEVs, Hydrogen fuel stations may be planned on dedicated corridors where long-distance trucking is widespread  

 The concept of carbon tariffs needs to be introduced on the lines of European countries. 

Supply side 

R&D investment should be accelerated to bring its cost at par with fossils. 

The Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT) scheme could be leveraged by exploring biogas conversion into hydrogen.  

A Viability Gap Funding (VGF) scheme may be introduced for hydrogen-based projects to commercialise and scale-up nascent technologies,  

The Priority Sector Lending (PSL) can be extended to electrolyser manufacturing and hydrogen projects to promote affordable financing.  

The government can launch the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme reducing the cost of electrolysers. This could help India become a global hub for electrolyser manufacturing and green hydrogen. 

On the transportation front 

Ammonia, having high energy density, could be promoted as a mode of transportation.  

The existing infrastructure used for natural gas transportation can be used for hydrogen gas transportation. Additionally, hydrogen transportation projects may be integrated with the PM Gati Shakti Master Plan. 

Source: The post is based on an article “Energy independence through hydrogen” published in The Hindu on 28th April 2022. 

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