Unlocking the potential of green hydrogen

Contact Counsellor

Unlocking the potential of green hydrogen

  • The ongoing tensions between Russia and Ukraine have led to the prices of crude oil shooting to $ 130/barrel.
  • Green hydrogen is an emerging option that will help reduce India’s vulnerability to such price shocks.

Deficiencies in Renewable Energy Technologies

  • Renewable Energy's Intermittent Nature: RE can only be generated intermittently.
    • Battery technology cannot store electricity at a grid scale.
  • Financial viability: There are question marks on the financial viability of green power.
    • In India, renewable electricity is a replacement for coal-based power, the cheapest form of energy, a big constraint on its viability.
    • Moreover, the customers of this power – the state distribution companies – are collectively insolvent.
    • A business cannot prosper if its primary customers are not financially viable.
  • Issues of batteries for heavy trucks: While electric cars and two-wheelers get a lot of visibility, much of India’s oil is burnt in heavy trucks.
    • Lithium batteries are not viable for trucks.
  • Critical minerals: Electric vehicles require large quantities of lithium and cobalt that India lacks.
    • These minerals also have very concentrated supply chains that are vulnerable to disruptions.
    • Large-scale investments in electric vehicles may create unsustainable dependencies for the country.

Green hydrogen as solution

  • Intermittent hydrogen in the energy mix can help circumvent some of these problems.
  • Hydrogen is an important industrial gas and is used on a large scale in petroleum refining, steel, and fertiliser production.
  • As of now, the hydrogen used in these industries is grey hydrogen, produced from natural gas.
  • Green hydrogen produced using renewable energy can be blended with grey hydrogen.
  • This will allow the creation of a substantial green hydrogen production capacity, without the risk that it may become a stranded asset.
  • Creating this hydrogen capacity will provide experience in handling the gas at a large scale and the challenges involved.
  • Blending with CNG: To widen the use of green hydrogen, it can be blended with compressed natural gas (CNG), widely used as a fuel for vehicles in Delhi, Mumbai and some other cities.
  • This will partly offset the need for imported natural gas and also help flag off the challenges of creating and distributing hydrogen at a national level.
  • By bringing down the price of green hydrogen sufficiently, India can help unlock some stranded assets.
  • The country has close to 25,000 megawatts of gas-fired power generation capacity that operates at a very low-capacity utilisation level. The high price of natural gas reduces the viability of such electricity.
  • These plants could use hydrogen blended with natural gas. Hydrogen should, however, be used to generate electricity after it has served its utility in other avenue.

Way forward

  • To catalyse a hydrogen economy, India needs some specialist players to execute projects as well as finance them.
  • Participation of private players: Apart from government-backed players, the hydrogen economy will need private sector participation.
  • India’s start-up sector, with over 75 unicorns, is perhaps the most vibrant part of the country’s economy currently.
  • This ecosystem has been enabled by a mix of factors, including the presence of entrepreneurs with ideas and investors who are willing to back up these ideas.
  • Creation of refueling network: One challenge of using new transport fuels, whether CNG or electric vehicles, is the creation of large-scale refuelling networks.
  • Bringing hydrogen vehicles on the road too soon will require the creation of yet another set of infrastructure.
  • Building fleets of hydrogen-fueled vehicles for gated infrastructure can be a good starting point.
  • Airports, ports and warehouses, for instance, use a large number of vehicles such as forklifts, cranes, trucks, tractors and passenger vehicles.


  • The government’s Green Hydrogen Policy sends the right signals about its intent. It now needs to ensure that investment can freely come into this space.

Exam Track

Prelims Take Away

  • Hydrogen and its Types
  • India and Renewable Energy
  • CNG
  • Natural Gas