By - King Stubb & Kasiva on August 3, 2023
India has been experiencing a significant increase in petroleum prices, reviving concerns regarding its energy security. The nation’s reliance on imported crude oil and natural gas, which accounts for a significant portion of its energy import costs, highlights the need to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. In contrast, India’s energy landscape has undergone a dramatic transformation over the past decade due to the widespread adoption of solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind technologies, resulting in surplus power generation and progress toward fulfilling the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Renewable energy has played a crucial role in India’s transition to healthier energy sources, but it cannot meet the country’s energy needs on its own. Electricity consumption only accounts for a small portion of total energy consumption, necessitating additional efforts to reduce glasshouse gas emissions in other sectors. Hydrogen has emerged as a plausible solution in the global race toward achieving net-zero emissions. Green hydrogen, which is produced by electrolyzing water with renewable electricity, has tremendous potential for decarbonizing challenging industrial sectors. Since the 1970s, India, which is endowed with abundant renewable resources, has recognized the significance of green hydrogen and initiated hydrogen technology initiatives.
India faces several obstacles in creating a robust hydrogen economy, involving high technology costs, limited government policies, and public awareness, despite the promise of green hydrogen. Recent government proposals, like budget allocations along with the formulation of a national hydrogen energy mission, nevertheless demonstrate a serious commitment to nurturing the long-term growth of green hydrogen. This article aims to highlight the potential of green hydrogen in India while overcoming the associated challenges in the following manner:
Green hydrogen is a form of hydrogen generated from renewable energy sources, such as wind or solar power, that is environmentally friendly and sustainable. Electrolysis, in which water is divided into hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O2) via an electrical current powered by renewable energy, is the primary method for its production. In contrast to conventional hydrogen production techniques, which rely on fossil fuels and emit glasshouse gases, green hydrogen does not produce carbon emissions, resulting in a sustainable energy carrier with vast application potential.
Green hydrogen offers India enormous benefits, notably in the decarbonization of vital sectors such as transportation, industry, and power generation. As a solution for storing renewable energy, it resolves the issue of intermittency in renewable sources and provides a stable and reliable energy supply. Green hydrogen can substitute hydrogen derived from fossil fuels (known as ‘Grey Hydrogen’ or ‘Brown Hydrogen’) in industrial applications, mitigating carbon emissions while advancing the nation’s climate objectives.
Additionally, green hydrogen possesses the potential to revolutionize India’s transportation sector by providing cleaner and more sustainable alternatives for road, aviation, and maritime transport. Green hydrogen is a game-changer in India’s quest for a greener and more sustainable energy future due to its versatility and promise to decarbonize hard-to-control industries like steel, cement, and coal.
In the past two decades, India’s energy consumption has doubled, and projections indicate a further 25% increase by 2030. The introduction of a Green Hydrogen Policy became essential for two primary reasons: first, to reduce the country’s significant reliance on energy imports, and second, to align with climate change objectives of attaining net-zero carbon emissions by 2070.
The Green Hydrogen Mission , which was published in February 2022, and further updated in 2023emphasizes promoting green hydrogen production and offers various incentives to sector stakeholders. Priority connectivity to the Inter-State Transmission System (ISTS) is granted to green hydrogen producers, and ISTS fees are waived for 25 years for projects commissioned before December 31, 2030. It permits the 30-day storage of excess renewable energy with distribution companies (DISCOMS) and adjustments to Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) compliance. In addition, the Policy facilitates the export of green hydrogen by allowing port authorities to provide land for bunker storage.
As a supplement to the Policy, the government has recently introduced the Strategic Interventions for Green Hydrogen Transition (SIGHT) Program, which is an incentive scheme for electrolyzer manufacturing. In addition, the Electricity (Promoting Renewable Energy Through Green Energy Open Access) Rules, 2022, with Amendment in 2023, has added green hydrogen to the definition of “green energy,” permitting distribution licensees, captive users, and open access consumers to meet RPO compliance by purchasing green hydrogen.
In addition to this, from initiatives such as the recent 3-Day International Conference on Green Hydrogen in New Delhi, we can ascertain that the government fosters partnerships with industry for developing cutting-edge technology for green hydrogen and stresses the significance of international cooperation.
India has witnessed significant technological advancements in green hydrogen production, storage, and distribution in recent years. Utilizing industrial and municipal wastewater as input for electrolysis, thereby tapping into the abundance of effluent water produced daily in the country, is a significant development. Efforts are also being made to reduce the overall cost of producing green hydrogen by investigating low-cost renewable energy facilities, local electrolyzer production, and technological advancements. As demonstrated by the draught Inter-ministerial R&D Roadmap for Green Hydrogen Ecosystem, the government is also prioritizing research and development to improve the efficacy, cost-effectiveness, and safety of green hydrogen technologies.
Despite these advancements, multiple obstacles impede India’s widespread adoption of renewable hydrogen. One of the most significant obstacles is water dependence, as the electrolysis procedure requires a substantial amount of water. Particularly in water-scarce regions, ensuring a continuous and abundant water supply becomes problematic. In addition, the economic viability of green hydrogen remains a significant concern due to the high cost of establishing production units that utilize renewable energy sources.
Standardization and reduction of electrolyzer manufacturing capital costs are required for green hydrogen to be economically viable. In addition, there is a mismatch between demand and supply, and investors are wary due to the lack of clarity surrounding Green Hydrogen Consumption Obligations. For the successful integration and expansion of green hydrogen infrastructure in India’s energy landscape, addressing these challenges and encouraging continued technological advancements will be crucial.
India must employ a multifaceted strategy to overcome obstacles in green hydrogen production and integration. Investing in the domestic manufacturing of electrolyzers and securing partnerships with critical mineral suppliers will reduce import reliance and lower production costs. Combined with breakthroughs in water treatment technologies, exploring the use of effluent and seawater for electrolysis can address water scarcity issues.
In addition, a focus on research and development will increase the electrolyzers’ efficiency and longevity while optimizing their water and energy usage. Establishing hydrogen nodes near demand centers will reduce transportation costs and facilitate the seamless integration of existing energy systems. Consistent and inexpensive renewable energy supply can be assured through cooperation among central and state governments, while supportive policies, including incentives and a clearly defined green hydrogen mission, will encourage private sector investments. India’s transition to a green hydrogen economy will be accelerated by global best practices and strategic partnerships, positioning the country as a global leader in producing renewable energy. India can pave the path for a greener and more sustainable future through these efforts.
India's pursuit of green hydrogen as an environmentally friendly and sustainable energy solution contains a great deal of promise, but also presents significant obstacles. The nation's dedication to the National Green Hydrogen Mission demonstrates its resolve to overcome these obstacles and expedite the transition to a low-carbon future. India can surmount production challenges and reduce costs by fostering indigenous manufacturing, securing vital minerals, promoting sustainable use of water, and stimulating research and development.
Establishing hydrogen hubs, assuring a consistent and cost-effective supply of renewable energy, and implementing favorable policies will increase the adoption of green hydrogen. India can position itself as a key participant in the global green hydrogen landscape through strategic collaboration and learning from the world's best practices, thereby helping to create a cleaner and greener planet.
Green hydrogen is produced by electrolyzing water using renewable energy sources, resulting in zero carbon emissions.
High production costs, limited availability of affordable renewable energy, and the need for innovative electrolysis technologies are all challenges in adopting green hydrogen.
Government policies, such as tax incentives, subsidies, and a clear regulatory framework, are necessary to encourage private investment and propel the expansion of green hydrogen infrastructure.