India’s tryst with the promise of a hydrogen-fuel economy

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Synopsis: India is pushing towards cleaner forms of energy. Green Hydrogen offers an opportunity.

Background

Read here: Green Hydrogen – Potential, issues and solutions

What is the present global scenario of Hydrogen production?

The current global production of hydrogen of about 80 million metric tonnes, and is almost wholly produced through fossil fuels. It uses 6% of global natural gas and 2% of coal, and contributes a whopping 830 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Thus, this route to hydrogen is not optimal.

In the coming years, hydrogen might transcend from fringe to mainstream status. It is not for the first time that such dramatic transformations have been witnessed in India.

What are some examples of dramatic transformations achieved by India?

Jan Dhan yojana: The roll-out of Jan Dhan Yojana no-frills bank accounts reached 400 million in just a few years.

Data usage: In data usage, India has leapfrogged from the bottom to the top global ranking in a short time.

LED usage: In LED usage, India’s market grew by 130 times in five years, from annual sales of 5 million LED bulbs in 2014 to 670 million in 2018.

The exponential scale effect in these examples has had a significant influence on bringing down unit costs. For instance, the price of an LED bulb dropped by nearly 85% in five years. India’s dramatic drop in data prices is also well known. So a similar phenomenon in hydrogen is possible.

What are some applications of Green Hydrogen?

It is expected to play a key role in decarbonization efforts, and has application in a variety of industries such as transportation, including trucks, buses, cars, and rail, as feedstock for fertilizers, chemicals, and refineries, in decarbonizing buildings and decarbonizing high-heat industries such as steel-making.

How the world is pushing forward with Hydrogen?

The global push for hydrogen is snowballing.

Thirty-one countries have already announced strategies. Many in the EU have scaled up investments in electrolyzers, as also China. More than 75 countries have a net-zero carbon ambition, for which hydrogen is indispensable.

Hence, it is possible that 22% of the global energy need by 2050 could be hydrogen-based.

However, the realization of this vision for India requires several things.

What needs to be done by India?

First, an enabling policy framework.

Second, a nudge to increase demand.

Third, infrastructure development, such as pipeline networks and last-mile connectivity. This can be accelerated through proven business models like Master Limited Partnerships, which are common in the West and allow private capital to participate in the scaling-up effort.

Source: This post is based on the article “India’s tryst with the promise of a hydrogen-fuel economy” published in Live Mint on 8th Sep 2021.

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