In the budget speech this year, FM Nirmala Sitharaman has announced about launching a ‘Hydrogen Energy Mission’ in FY22. The proposed mission will find ways to produce Green Hydrogen – hydrogen generated using renewable energy resources.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while speaking at the Third Re-inVest Conference in November 2020, had announced plans to launch a comprehensive National Hydrogen Energy Mission. It is now proposed to launch a Hydrogen Energy Mission in 2021-22 for generating hydrogen from green power sources,” Sitharaman said.
The first element of the periodic table and, the most abundant element in the universe, Hydrogen is deemed as the fuel of the future. Hydrogen is used as fuel in rockets, and has application in Iron & Steel industry.
According to the Power Ministry, India generates about 62 per cent of energy from thermal sources (non-renewable resources), out which 85 per cent of power comes from coal. Though, India is doing fairly well to generate more energy from renewable sources, this tilt towards Hydrogen is a welcome move.
While the exact details about the planned mission is yet to be made available in the public domain, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) says that it is supporting R&D by the industrial, academic, and research institutions on hydrogen energy and fuel. Challenges in production of green hydrogen, its efficient storage, and its utilisation for energy generation & transport applications are being constantly addressed.
“With respect to transportation, major work has been supported to Banaras Hindu University, IIT Delhi, and Mahindra & Mahindra. This has resulted in development and demonstration of internal combustion engines, two wheelers, three wheelers, and mini buses that run on hydrogen fuel. Two hydrogen refuelling stations have been established (one each at Indian Oil R&D Centre, Faridabad and National Institute of Solar Energy, Gurugram),” mentions the MNRE on its official site.
FM Nirmala Sitharaman has also proposed to provide an additional capital of Rs 1500 crore to Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Limited (IREDA) for the financial year 2021-22.
Several nations like US, UK, Canada, Germany, China, Japan, South Korea, among others are presently investing in technologies related to green hydrogen for a sustainable future.
Even before getting elected, the US President Joe Biden had made promised that he will invest in Green Hydrogen to “secure our future”. The European Union has vowed to spend 430 billion Euros in Green Hydrogen.
Green Hydrogen can be the next big power source in the world, and India has also started on its way to tap its full potential. It can provide clean power in manufacturing, transportation, and other sectors, but its production demands a thorough research & development to make it economically viable. A post-production infrastructure is also required for efficient storage and transportation.
China, on the other hand, is already the world’s largest producer of hydrogen as a fuel, but there is a catch. It produces grey and blue hydrogen. When the source of energy to extract hydrogen is non-renewable like natural gas or fossil fuels, then the resultant fuel is called Grey Hydrogen, whereas Blue Hydrogen is produced by extracting CO2 from methane.
These methods cause release of methane and CO2, both greenhouse gases that are responsible for global warming.
The rise in energy demand is having a significant impact on the environment. Moreover, energy sector is considered to be a major source for environmental concerns, including local air pollution, GHGs emissions, and thus it accounts for the implications associated with climate change.
Therefore, there is a powerful need to address the growth of energy demand, and at the same time provide clean energy to the masses, keeping the climate change threats under constant check.
This visionary step can prove to have prospective advantages as it will provide India a better alternative source of energy, and help achieve the environment protection goals set according to the Paris Agreement.
Hydrogen will prove to be the game changer in this regard, but for that to happen, India will have to focus on capacity building, especially in the R&D arena.
More to come