Boosting green hydrogen
- Recently, the Indian Prime Minister has announced that India would aim for net-zero carbon emissions by 2070.
- The announcement was given credence by the country’s solar achievements since 2015.
- Further, India is the only major economy whose policies and actions are on track to limit global average temperature rise below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, as envisioned in the Paris Agreement.
HYDROGEN AND ITS TYPES
- Hydrogen is one of the most abundant elements on earth for a cleaner alternative fuel option.
- The hydrogen produced is coded with a colour, depending on the method of its production:
- Green hydrogen is produced by electrolysis of water using renewable energy (like Solar, Wind) and has a lower carbon footprint.
- Brown hydrogen is produced using coal where the emissions are released to the air.
- Grey hydrogen is produced from natural gas where the associated emissions are released to the air.
- Blue hydrogen is produced from natural gas, where the emissions are captured using carbon capture and storage.
SIGNIFICANCE OF HYDROGEN
- As of now, 75% of India’s energy demand is met by coal and oil, including imports and this is expected to increase.
- Therefore, the synergy between renewable energy and green hydrogen must be tapped to tackle the dependence on fossil fuel and take greater advantage of India’s solar capacity.
- Hydrogen — green hydrogen, in particular, is a crucial weapon in India’s arsenal to fight climate change as it improves the long-term energy storage capabilities of renewable energy.
- The simplest element in the periodic table is also the most promising solution to decarbonise sectors like cement, steel, and refineries.
- As per a recent statement from the Hydrogen Council, “Hydrogen can provide the lowest-cost decarbonization solution for over a fifth of final energy demand by mid-century — contributing a cumulative reduction of 80Gt of CO2 — and is thus an essential solution to reach the 1.5°C climate scenario.”
- Thus due to the above significance, several major economies which are adopting legislation to reduce carbon emissions are also catalysing global efforts towards transitions to green hydrogen.
- India’s solar capacity has increased nearly 3,000 times in less than a decade, the cost of solar energy has reached a low of ₹2 per kWh. This gives India a unique head start in scaling up the use of green hydrogen.
- Nearly 70% of the investments required to produce green hydrogen through electrolysis goes into generating renewable energy.
- Therefore, India can reduce its carbon emissions and make a dent in its annual import bills by developing a value chain for hydrogen from its production to its diverse applications, including production technologies, storage, transport and distribution, infrastructure (ports, refuelling stations), vehicular applications, and electricity/gas grid.
- Government funding and long-term policies that attract private investments within the standards and a progressive compliance framework are essential to boost green hydrogen.
- Hydrogen’s cross-sectoral capabilities should be exploited according to each sector’s cost and ease of adoption.
- A few key sectors with low transition costs, such as refineries, fertilizers and natural gas, should be mandated to use hydrogen to bring down costs as part of near-term goals.
- New demand from steel, cement and road mobility should be mandated as part of medium-term goals.
- Heavy-duty vehicles should receive State and Central incentives.
- Shipping, aviation, energy storage and solutions towards power intermittency should be mandated to use green hydrogen in the long run.
- India should replace its grey hydrogen with green hydrogen and reduce dependence on imported ammonia.
- India’s current grey hydrogen production is six million tonnes per annum, which is around 8.5% of global annual production.
- At present, more than 30 countries have hydrogen road maps and over 200 large-scale hydrogen projects across the value chain. If all the projects come to fruition, total investments will reach $300 billion in spending by 2030.
- Governments worldwide have committed to more than $70 billion in public funding, according to the Hydrogen Council, to develop a hydrogen economy.
- With its abundant and cheap solar energy, India has the upper hand to tap into these investments and lead global efforts in transitioning to green hydrogen.
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