By - King Stubb & Kasiva on September 13, 2023
With the approval of the National Green Hydrogen Mission on January 4, 2023, India embarked on a journey of transformation towards sustainable energy solutions. With a budget of ₹19,744 crore, this mission is set to position India as a global leader in producing, utilizing, and exporting green hydrogen. The foundation of the mission is the establishment of a comprehensive research and innovation ecosystem committed to advancing green hydrogen technologies.
Recently, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) released a comprehensive report, titled “R&D Roadmap for Green Hydrogen Ecosystem in India (Draft),” which measures the current state of research and development (R&D) and outlines a plan of action to support the rapidly growing green hydrogen ecosystem. This is the result of a collaborative effort between government entities, industry leaders, and academic institutions.
The Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, the NITI Aayog, and numerous other institutions have collaborated on this initiative. The draft roadmap has been produced with the assistance of thematic subcommittees focusing on hydrogen production, storage, transportation, and applications. It consists of a comprehensive analysis of the technology landscapes and provides essential insights via benchmarking and gap analysis. The recommendations in this road map are intended to accelerate R&D across the entire green hydrogen value chain, which is crucial for the commercialization of green hydrogen per India’s climate and energy goals.
This article aims to highlight the contents of this draft report and how the future of green hydrogen looks in India in the following manner:
India’s pursuit of Green Hydrogen is hinged on the National Green Hydrogen Mission’s comprehensive R&D initiative. Recognizing the importance of technological advancement, this mission confronts the challenges impeding the production and use of Green Hydrogen. Key hydrogen technologies such as electrolysers and fuel cells are currently unable to compete on a cost-effective basis. India’s R&D roadmap concentrates on enhancing hydrogen value chain efficiency, dependability, and cost-effectiveness.
To establish global competitiveness, the strategy includes supporting innovation, short-term Mission Mode Projects, consortium-driven Grand Challenge Projects, and long-term Blue-Sky Projects. The Strategic Hydrogen Innovation Partnership (SHIP) is a public-private partnership framework that will drive innovation, while Centres of Excellence facilitate collaboration among academia, industry, and government.
This ambitious R&D project leverages India’s institutional strengths, including institutions like Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), ISRO, Council for Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), IITs, and Indian Institute of Science (IISc), along with industry collaboration. In addition, it encourages the development of indigenous technology by supporting MSMEs and startups. The MNRE will facilitate collaboration between industry and academia and provide policy support.
The second chapter examines hydrogen production methods and related R&D in India. It discusses the various routes for hydrogen production, including both fossil fuels and renewable resources, as well as key processes such as steam methane reforming, methanol-reforming, and electrolysis. It also defines the goals of India’s 2030 hydrogen production vision, emphasizing the need to lower capital and operational costs, improve efficiency, minimize carbon emissions, and encourage material circularity.
Furthermore, it explores national and international R&D activities in this field, with a focus on the contributions of research organizations such as BARC, CSIR - Central Electrochemical Research Institute, ONGC Energy Centre (OEC), Indian Oil R&D Centre, IIT Kharagpur, among others.
Finally, the chapter outlines critical research priorities such as catalysis, separations, interfacial chemistry and materials, theory and modelling, and life cycle evaluation. It further proposes mission mode projects, grand challenge projects, and blue-sky projects with varying impact horizons. These activities are designed to address major concerns, promote innovation, and boost India’s competitive position in the hydrogen production industry.
The third chapter highlights the vital importance of hydrogen storage methods to successfully commercialize hydrogen-based energy usage such as stationary power, portable power, and transportation. Compressed gas, liquid hydrogen, and material-based storage (such as metal hydrides and MOFs) are all being researched as hydrogen storage options. International and national R&D initiatives for underground storage, metal hydride storage projects, and solid-state hydrogen storage projects are outlined along with initiatives, studies, and prospective storage capacities.
The chapter outlines the objectives, R&D targets, mission mode, grand challenge projects, and a plan of action for hydrogen storage R&D, with a focus on the importance of indigenous development, economic possibilities, and the long-term building of an evolved hydrogen ecosystem.
The fourth chapter includes a comprehensive analysis of various hydrogen transport systems and technologies. It addresses pipelines, tanks/cylinders, cryogenic containers, liquid organic hydrogen carriers (LOHCs), and other problems related to the transport of hydrogen in gaseous, liquid, and solid forms. Furthermore, the chapter analyses the global and Indian hydrogen transportation landscape, highlighting advancements and improvements in both regions.
Notably, it highlights the importance of R&D efforts to improve the efficacy, lower the cost, and boost the commercial feasibility of hydrogen transport technology. The proposed projects range from short-term mission-mode initiatives, such as hydrogen cylinder testing, to mid-term efforts, such as lab-scale demonstrations of LOHC-based transport and hydrogen pipeline pilots, to long-term blue-sky initiatives, such as indigenous development of compressed hydrogen storage cylinders and developed leak detection systems for hydrogen pipelines. These are all to advance India’s capabilities in green hydrogen transportation.
By 2070, India’s energy consumption is expected to reach 45,000 TWH, necessitating significant expenditures in energy infrastructure. Green hydrogen has been positioned as a vital solution for decarbonizing industries like transportation, steel, fertilizers, and chemicals, which account for a substantial amount of India’s greenhouse gas emissions. National and international research efforts are focusing on increasing the efficiency, safety, and affordability of hydrogen-based technologies such as internal combustion engines, fuel cells, and ammonia-based energy storage. Furthermore, green hydrogen has the potential to transform steel manufacturing, paving the door for eco-friendly and pure steel production while lowering CO2 emissions.
India aims to become a global leader in Green Hydrogen through the National Hydrogen Mission. The current use of hydrogen is focused on ammonia manufacturing and refineries, which limits the adoption of fuel-cell vehicles. Reliance’s proposal to convert 45,000 diesel vehicles to fuel cell trucks by 2025 and Adani’s use of Ballard PEM fuel cells for mining trucks, on the other hand, are promising endeavours. Mid-term and Long-term plans include significant infrastructure development and R&D for sustainable hydrogen utilization.
The sixth chapter focuses on hydrogen purification, carbon accounting technique, and the development and validation of Balance of Plant (BoP) components. Application-specific hydrogen purity demands specialist purification procedures. While water electrolysis creates highly pure hydrogen, other methods of synthesis require extra purification to meet standards. Pressure swing adsorption (PSA), cryogenic distillation, and emerging membrane technologies are among the purification technologies covered. In addition, a carbon accounting technique based on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is proposed to estimate environmental effects. Components including compressors, valves, sensors, and power electronics must be manufactured and verified domestically to minimize costs and encourage local industry participation.
This Green Hydrogen framework outlines a comprehensive strategy for hydrogen production, usage, and infrastructure expansion. The focus on green hydrogen aligns with global environmental goals and offers significant promise for emission reduction and energy security. The framework delves into critical issues such as technological paths, legislative incentives, and industry participation. It recognizes the importance of diverse hydrogen uses, such as fuel cells and industrial processes, and highlights the importance of purification technologies and domestic component manufacture. By setting carbon accounting rules and supporting innovation, India is prepared to exploit the full potential of hydrogen in its energy environment, thus contributing to a resilient and sustainable future.
The current hydrogen demand in India is approximately 6 million tonnes. The key sectors include refineries, ammonia production, and steel manufacturing.
LCA is used to evaluate the environmental impact of producing hydrogen, which aids in the selection of feedstocks and processes aligned with the objectives of sustainability and reduction of emissions.
: India establishes its testing protocols following the ISO and SAE standards to verify the quality of hydrogen fuel dispensed. This ensures suitability for fuel cells, gas turbines, and industrial processes.