Energy independence through hydrogen
India’s Green Hydrogen Policy released in February has addressed several critical challenges such as open access, waiver of inter-state transmission charges, banking, time-bound clearances, etc., and is expected to further boost India’s energy transition.
Indian Energy needs
- India’s per capita energy consumption is about one-third of the global average and one-twelfth of the U.S.
- This and volatility in prices due to Russia-Ukraine crisis and hike in energy prices from 2020 to 2021, could pose a serious threat to our energy security.
Here comes Hydrogen
- Hydrogen is considered India’s gateway to energy independence.
- It has a multifaceted role to play in the futuristic energy landscape, be it energy storage, long-haul transport, or decarbonisation of the industrial sector.
- Hydrogen can be stored on a large scale and for a longer duration.
- It will complement and accelerate renewables into India’s clean energy transition.
- Can support India’s ambitious plan to achieve 500 GW renewable capacity by 2030.
Hydrogen: a game-changer
- Role of Hydrogen in the decarbonisation of India’s transport sector
- Advantages of fuel cell vehicles over battery electric vehicles - faster fueling and long-driving range - ideal for long-haul transportation (major constraint with Li-Ion batteries).
- Industry - hydrogen can decarbonise ‘hard-to-abate’ sectors ( iron and steel, aluminium, copper etc).
- A huge prospect to produce fuels such as methanol, synthetic kerosene and green ammonia.
- India’s hydrogen consumption was around 7 Mt in 2020 and according to The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), it is anticipated to leapfrog to about 28 Mt in 2050.
- Assuming 25% export capacity, we can expect a requirement of 35 Mt by 2050.
- On the basis of this assumption, we can calculate that India would require a tentative capacity in the range of 192 GW to 224 GW of electrolysers by 2050, assuming all of it is green hydrogen.
- The global capacity of electrolysers has just crossed 300 MW in 2021. India itself would require an electrolyser capacity of 640 to 750 times the current global capacity, by 2050.
- India would require 110-130% of its current total electricity generation (2020-21) by 2050.
- Therefore, a road map for rapid growth in demand for electricity, especially from renewables should be prepared.
- Production of 1 kg of hydrogen by electrolysis requires around nine litres of water.
- Therefore, hydrogen project planning should be holistic and targeted in areas that are not water-scarce.
- Hydrogen fulfils the three Es of India’s energy road map — energy security, energy sustainability and energy access.
- India should strive to seize one more E, viz. economic opportunity so that industry can be encouraged to its full potential.
- Mandate for Mature Industries
- A mandate should be given to mature industries such as refining and fertilisers, with adequate incentives.
- Proper incentivisation
- Industries manufacturing low emission hydrogen-based products inter alia green steel and green cement need to be incentivised by government policies.
- Blending hydrogen with natural gas
- It can act as a big booster shot which can be facilitated by framing blending mandates, regulations and promoting H-CNG stations.
- Infrastructure development
- To promote FCEVs, hydrogen fuel stations may be planned on dedicated corridors where long-distance trucking is widespread.
- Carbon tariffs
- It needs to be levied on the lines of European countries.
Five step strategy for Supply
- Accelerated investment in R&D
- To bring its cost at par with fossils.
- Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT) scheme
- It has a target to produce 15 MMT of compressed biogas.
- It could be leveraged by exploring biogas conversion into hydrogen.
- Viability Gap Funding (VGF) scheme
- VGF can be introduced to commercialise and scale-up nascent technologies for hydrogen-based projects.
- Priority Sector Lending (PSL)
- Further, to secure affordable financing, electrolyser manufacturing and hydrogen projects need to be brought under Priority Sector Lending (PSL).
- Implementing the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme
- Since two dominant cost factors for green hydrogen are renewable energy tariffs & electrolyser costs, and India has the advantage of one of the lowest renewable tariffs; the thrust should be on reducing the cost of electrolysers by implementing the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme.
- This could help India become a global hub for electrolyser manufacturing and green hydrogen.
A new Hydrogen Transportation System
- Can be built on the foundation created for natural gas by using its existing infrastructure.
- Hydrogen transportation projects may also be integrated with PM Gati Shakti Master Plan.
- India could export to projected future import centres like Japan, South Korea, etc.
- With hydrogen, India could lead the world in achieving Paris Agreement’s goal to limit global warming to 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels.
- Hydrogen could lay the foundation of a new India which would be energy-independent; a global climate leader and international energy power.
- Types of Hydrogen
- National Hydrogen Mission
- Renewable Energy in India
Q. Hydrogen is being dubbed as the alternative fuel. However, there are many problems associated with the leveraging of hydrogen technology. Discuss.