How can the promotion of green hydrogen help India achieve net zero carbon emission?
Green hydrogen is defined as hydrogen produced by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using renewable electricity. Green hydrogen could be a critical enabler of the global transition to sustainable energy and net zero emissions economies. There is unprecedented momentum around the world to fulfil hydrogen’s longstanding potential as a clean energy solution.
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 and the opportunity
- 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.
How to structure
- Give an intro what green hydrogen is
- Explain how it can help India achieve net zero carbon emissions- Mention any commitments India has made
- Mention challenges associated
- Suggest way forward and link schemes to it