The Centre approved the National Green Hydrogen Mission

The Union Cabinet approved the National Green Hydrogen Mission, which aims to make India the global hub for green hydrogen production.

What is Green Hydrogen?

  • Green hydrogen is hydrogen gas created by the electrolysis of water.
  • It is an energy-intensive process that uses renewable energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
  • Green hydrogen currently costs between $300 and $400 per kilogram in India.

Mission Green Hydrogen

  • The National Hydrogen Mission was launched on August 15, 2021, with the goal of reducing carbon emissions and increasing the use of renewable energy sources.
  • The scheme’s implementation guidelines will be developed by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).

Important characteristics

  • Power capacity: The mission aims to promote the development of a green hydrogen production capacity of at least 5 MMT per year in the country by 2030, with an associated renewable energy capacity addition of approximately 125 GW.
  • Job creation: It anticipates an investment of more than Rs. 8 lakh crore and the creation of more than 6 lakh jobs by 2030.
  • Reduced energy import bill: It will also result in a cumulative reduction in fossil fuel imports of over 1 lakh crore and a reduction in annual greenhouse gas emissions of nearly 50 MMT by 2030.
  • Export promotion: The mission will make it easier to create demand for, produce, use, and export green hydrogen.
  • Incentivization: The mission will include two distinct financial incentive mechanisms aimed at the domestic manufacturing of electrolyzers and the production of green hydrogen under the Strategic Interventions for Green Hydrogen Transition Programme (SIGHT).
  • Green Hydrogen Hubs: Regions capable of large-scale hydrogen production and/or utilization will be identified and developed as Green Hydrogen Hubs.

Hydrogen Energy: A Backgrounder

  • In comparison to hydrocarbons, which have net carbon content in the range of 75-85 percent, hydrogen is an important source of energy because it has zero carbon content and is a non-polluting source of energy.
  • Hydrogen energy is expected to cut carbon emissions, which are expected to increase by 1.5 billion tonnes by 2021.
  • It has the most energy by weight and the least amount of energy by volume.
  • According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), hydrogen will account for 6% of total energy consumption by 2050.
  • Hydrogen energy is still in its early stages of development, but it has significant potential to aid in the transition from hydrocarbons to renewables.

Why is hydrogen used?

  • Hydrogen is a non-toxic, nonmetallic, odorless, tasteless, colorless, and highly combustible diatomic gas at standard temperature and pressure.
  • When combined with oxygen, hydrogen fuel produces no emissions. It is suitable for use in fuel cells and internal combustion engines. It is also used as a propulsion fuel for spacecraft.
  • Numerous sources: Natural gas, nuclear power, biomass, and renewable energy sources such as solar and wind can all be used to generate hydrogen.
  • Carbon reduction: India remains committed to environmental and climate causes, with a strong emphasis on renewable energy and energy efficiency measures.
  • Diversification of our energy basket: This is the key lever that will enable this transition. That is why the arrival of hydrogen at the forefront is a welcome development.

How is hydrogen produced?

  • Hydrocarbons such as natural gas, oil, and coal can be used to produce commercially viable hydrogen through processes such as steam methane reforming, partial oxidation, and coal gasification.
  • Water, sunlight, and wind can be converted into energy through electrolysis, photolysis, and other thermo-chemical processes.

How is Green Hydrogen generated?

  • Green hydrogen is typically generated from the water today via electrolysis, a process that uses an electric current to split water into its component molecules of hydrogen and oxygen.
  • This is accomplished with the help of an electrolyzer, which consists of a cathode and an anode (positively and negatively charged electrodes).
  • As a byproduct of this process, only oxygen – or steam – is produced.
  • To qualify as “green hydrogen,” the electricity used for electrolysis must be derived from renewable sources such as wind or solar energy.
  • Green hydrogen production is currently two to three times more expensive than blue hydrogen production.

How can green hydrogen be put to use?

  • Hydrogen can be used in a variety of ways. It can either be burned to generate heat or fed into a fuel cell to generate electricity.
  • Fuel-cell Mobility: Electric vehicles powered by hydrogen
  • Container ships propelled by hydrogen-based liquid ammonia
  • Green steel refineries use hydrogen as a heat source instead of coal.
  • Hydrogen-powered electricity turbines that can generate electricity during peak demand periods to help stabilize the power grid

Green Hydrogen Production Difficulties

  • The transition of India to a green hydrogen economy (GHE) is only possible if certain key issues are addressed.
  • Supply-Chain Issues: The creation of a supply chain, beginning with the manufacture of electrolyzers and ending with the production of green hydrogen using electricity from a renewable energy source, is critical to the success of GHE.
  • Green hydrogen requires larger-scale electrolyzers than have previously been seen.
  • Storage necessitates either extremely high pressures or extremely high temperatures, both of which present technical challenges.
  • Explosion Hazard: Because of its low ignition energy and high combustion energy, it is dangerous.
  • Risk of use: Although automotive fuels are highly flammable, a vehicle laden with hydrogen is more likely to be vulnerable in the event of a major accident.
  • High Production Costs: To become competitive, the price of green hydrogen per kilogram must be reduced to a benchmark of $2/kg. Green hydrogen can compete with natural gas at these prices.
  • Energy intensification: Creating green hydrogen requires a massive amount of electricity, which means a massive increase in wind and solar power to meet global targets.
  • Due to a lack of proper infrastructure, only 500 hydrogen stations exist worldwide. Only a few manufacturers are market participants in this technology.
  • Other issues include low user acceptance and social awareness. Creating after-sales support for hydrogen technology.

Policy and Economic Challenges

  • Economic sustainability: One of the most significant challenges that the industry faces in commercializing hydrogen is the economic sustainability of extracting green or blue hydrogen.
  • Technological challenges: The technology used in hydrogen production and use, such as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and hydrogen fuel cell technology, is in its early stages.
  • Cost Factor: These technologies are expensive, which raises the cost of hydrogen production and necessitates significant investment, putting fiscal pressure on the government.
  • Higher maintenance costs: Fuel cell maintenance costs after a plant is completed can be expensive.
  • Legal and administrative compliance is required: certification mechanisms, recommendations, and regulations for various system components.

Way ahead

  • Hydrogen energy is still in its early stages of development, but it has significant potential for facilitating India’s energy transition.
  • The new policy is a vision for the future that can help the country not only reduce carbon emissions but also diversify its energy portfolio and reduce reliance on foreign sources.
  • India’s transition can serve as a model for the rest of the world in terms of achieving energy security without jeopardizing the goal of sustainable development.
  • The GoI must vigorously pursue the goal of establishing a GHE in order to establish India as a global manufacturing hub and to position itself at the top of the green hydrogen export market.
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