Energy independence through hydrogen

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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.
  • Advantages
    • 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.

Five-step strategy

  • 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.

Exam Track

Prelims takeaway

  • Types of Hydrogen
  • National Hydrogen Mission
  • Renewable Energy in India

Mains Track

Q. Hydrogen is being dubbed as the alternative fuel. However, there are many problems associated with the leveraging of hydrogen technology. Discuss.