What is green hydrogen?
Hydrogen can be used in broadly two ways. It can be burnt to produce heat or fed into a fuel cell to make electricity.
Most of the gas that is widely used currently as an industrial chemical is either brown or gray. While brown gas is made through the gasification of coal or lignite, gray is made through steam methane reformation. Neither of these processes is carbon-friendly.
Blue hydrogen is a cleaner version in which the gas is produced by steam methane reformation, but the emissions are curtailed using carbon capture and storage. On the other hand, green hydrogen has been identified as the clean energy source that could help bring the world to net-zero emissions. It could almost eliminate emissions by using renewable energy to power the electrolysis of water.
Green hydrogen is produced by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using an electrolyzer powered by electricity from green energy sources such as wind and solar. The high cost of production is the main factor behind the low use of this type of hydrogen.
Why is it called fuel of the future?
India’s clean energy future is at a critical juncture. Should the country continue its historical reliance on imports to satisfy its demand for liquid and gaseous energy carriers, or take the plunge towards a green hydrogen future?
One road sees India continue its dependence on oil-rich nations supplying energy fuels and blue hydrogen carriers, and the ongoing exposure to sometimes crippling international prices. The alternative route would see India invest heavily in research, development, and demonstration to drive down the cost of electrolysis, and to complement, and capitalize on, its status as one of the world’s lowest-cost producers of solar power. Just a decade ago, current costs of solar PV were unimaginable. Some expect electrolyzers and green hydrogen production costs to see similar surprises. Large-scale use of electrolysis can also provide demand-side flexibility to moderate the variability of weather-dependent renewable power generation.
What are the initiatives taken by India?
Govt had launched a green hydrogen policy in February this year. Companies like Reliance, Larsen & Tourbo and Adani have announced projects worth Rs 6 trillion.
So how is this sector shaping up?
Hyderabad-based Greenko group and Belgium-based John Cockeril recently announced that they would build a hydrogen electrolyser gigafactory targeting 2-gigawatt in India.
This would be the largest such facility outside of China. This partnership will reportedly entail an investment of about Rs 4,000 crore.
Analysts told Business Standard that Reliance Industries, Larsen & Toubro and Adani, together, have earmarked investments of close to Rs 6 trillion in green hydrogen projects.
Clearly, green hydrogen is powering the ambitions of India Inc. And, this push by major corporate names comes as the government, which launched a green hydrogen policy in February, bets big on the sector.
On 15th August 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the National Hydrogen Mission as a step towards environmental security, and make India a global hub for the production and export of green hydrogen.
The gap between intent and execution is clear. Time will reveal if that’s a mountain to climb.
It can be argued that no country needs green hydrogen more than India – to reduce life-threatening air pollution in its cities, to escape the debilitating financial burden of energy imports, and to decarbonize its rapidly growing economy. No country has a more urgent need to fast-track the green hydrogen economy and lead the way.
Written by Pinky Bothra