- The forthcoming 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow from November 1-12, 2021 is to re-examine the coordinated action plans to mitigate greenhouse gases and climate adaptation measures.
- Hence, in order to achieve the goal of an alternative source of energy, governments are placing large bets in the hope of adopting a multi-faceted practical approach to utilise ‘Green hydrogen’ as a driving source to power our industries and light our homes with the ‘zero emission’ of carbon dioxide.
- Green hydrogen is a zero-carbon fuel made by electrolysis using renewable power from wind and solar to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
- Depending on the process of production, other types of Hydrogen are:
- Black hydrogen is produced using fossil fuels.
- Pink hydrogen is produced through electrolysis, but using energy from nuclear power sources.
- Blue hydrogen is when natural gas is split into hydrogen and CO2 either by Steam Methane Reforming (SMR) or AutoThermal Reforming (ATR), but the CO2 is captured and then stored.
SIGNIFICANCE OF GREEN HYDROGEN
Hydrogen as alternative potential:
- Hydrogen is the most abundant element on the planet, and has an energy density almost three times that of diesel.
- These characteristics make Hydrogen a rich source of energy.
- Further, Green hydrogen can be utilised for the generation of power from natural sources — wind or solar systems — and will be a major step forward in achieving the target of
Sustainable energy source:
- As hydrogen emits only water as its emission product, the usage of green hydrogen will help to curb premature deaths due to air pollution.
- In 2018, 8.7 million people died prematurely as a result of air pollution from fossil fuels.
Rising demand for energy:
- As per the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts the additional power demand to be to the tune of 25%-30% by the year 2040.
- The power generation by ‘net-zero’ emission will be a leap forward in minimising our dependence on conventional fossil fuel.
A power hungry India:
- According to the IEA’s forecast, India is the world’s fourth largest energy consuming country (behind China, the United States and the European Union), and will overtake the European Union to become the world’s third energy consumer by the year 2030.
- Hence, India needs a ‘net-zero’ emission solution to achieve the target of expert guidelines on global warming to remain under 1.5° C.
Rare in pure form:
- Despite being the most abundant element on the planet, Hydrogen rarely exists in its pure form– the form required as an energy source.
The obstacle of cost:
- The ‘production cost’ of ‘Green hydrogen’ has been considered to be a prime obstacle.
- Liquified LH2 (liquid hydrogen) needs to be kept at a stable minus 253° C (far below the temperature of minus 163° C at which Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) is stored. This makes its prior use cost exorbitant.
- According to studies by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IREA), the production cost of this ‘green source of energy’ is expected to be around $1.5 per kilogram (for nations having perpetual sunshine and vast unused land), by the year 2030; by adopting various conservative measures.
- Presently, less than 0.1% or say ~75 million tons/year of hydrogen capable of generating ~284GW of power, is produced.
- Oil-producing nations such as Saudi Arabia where the day temperature soars to over 50° C in summer, is prioritising plans to manufacture this source of energy by utilising ‘idle-land-banks’ for solar and wind energy generation.
- It is working to establish a mega $5 billion ‘Green hydrogen’ manufacturing unit covering a land-size as large as that of Belgium, in the northern-western part of the country.
- Recently, Indian Railways have announced the country’s first experiment of a hydrogen-fuel cell technology-based train by retrofitting an existing diesel engine.
- The project will not only ensure diesel savings to the tune of several lakhs annually but will also prevent the emission of 0.72 kilo tons of particulate matter and 11.12 kilo tons of carbon per annum.
- It is high time for India to catch up with the rest of the world by going in for clean energy, decarbonising the economy and adopting ‘Green hydrogen’ as an environment-friendly and safe fuel for the next generations.