Role of Green Hydrogen in India’s Future

Globally, green hydrogen is becoming the key focus of international climate agenda as the cumulative of all the Nationally Determined Contributions fall short of the required reductions in global GHG emissions needed to limit global warming below...

Globally, green hydrogen is becoming the key focus of international climate agenda as the cumulative of all the Nationally Determined Contributions fall short of the required reductions in global GHG emissions needed to limit global warming below 2°C by the end of the century.

India has committed to reducing the emission intensity of economic activity by 33–35 per cent by 2030 (below the 2005 levels) under the Paris Agreement on climate change. To achieve this goal, the Government of India has drafted policies to reduce emissions from the power, industry, and transport sectors, which contribute a lion’s share of emissions to the economy. The targeted measures include an ambitious 450 GW of electric power generation through renewable energy sources by 2030, Perform, Achieve, and Trade (PAT) scheme for enhancing industrial energy efficiency, and increasing the share of electric vehicles (EVs) in both public and private transport.

India’s ambitious renewable capacity deployment targets accompanied by falling tariffs and the ever-increasing energy demand from the industry and transport sectors are ideal for making a switch to hydrogen economy.

A hydrogen economy also improves air quality, mitigates carbon emissions, and fulfils the Atmanirbhar Bharat (Self-reliant India) vision.

The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) based in India said in a recent report that currently all hydrogen consumed in India comes from fossil fuels. However, by 2050, nearly 80% of India’s hydrogen is projected to be green – produced by renewable electricity and electrolysis.

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India has a huge edge in green hydrogen production owing to its favorable geographic conditions and presence of abundant natural elements such as sunlight and wind. As of 31 March 2020, almost 36 per cent of India’s installed electricity generation capacity is from renewable sources and its renewable energy sector is the fourth most attractive market in the world.

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India is leading the transition into clean energy. India can become the global leader in developing the required technology using our vast pool of scientific talent. The country already has a CSIR network of 38 National Research Laboratories which cover a wide spectrum of science and technology.

Public-private initiatives, joint ventures, supportive policies, and risk-sharing instruments are creating an environment to speed up the advancements cited above. India’s Finance Minister in the union budget for 2020-21 formally announced the ‘National Hydrogen Mission’ for the generation of hydrogen from green power sources. The government has given impetus in scaling the gas pipeline infrastructure across the length and breadth of the country and has introduced reforms for the power grid, including the introduction of smart grids. Such steps are being taken to effectively integrate renewable energy into the present energy mix. With the appropriate capacity addition to renewable power generation, storage, and transmission, producing green hydrogen in India can become cost effective which will not only guarantee energy security but also ensure self-sufficiency in time. Hydrogen will help in storing renewable energy and transporting renewable energy, and that will overcome the problem of interdependence, which renewable energy suffers from. It is particularly useful in long-haul transportation, where battery storage falls short.

Needless to say that global co-operation is needed in exchange for technologies. No single country can complete the entire value chain and thus, there is a need for co-operation among countries to make green energy available at the earliest opportunity.

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Sweden has an ambition to become a hydrogen country. In Feb 2021, the Swedish government announced it will develop a national hydrogen strategy.

The Swedish Energy Agency has received an assignment to develop a proposal for an overall strategy for hydrogen. The goal of the strategy will be to suggest how Sweden can develop and take advantage of the opportunities with hydrogen and electrofuels and facilitate the transition to a fossil-free society.

The investment in fossil-free steel will lead to large amounts of hydrogen being produced in Sweden.

Hybrit, an industry project to produce fossil-free steel by LKAB, SSAB and Vattenfall, see hydrogen as the solution to reduce emissions from the blast furnaces. The idea is that the hydrogen gas will be produced by electrolysis of water. During Hybrit’s pilot phase, two electrolyzers are deemed necessary. To service an entire steelwork, more than 100 units will probably be needed.

Sweden will increase domestic production and take advantage of hydrogen’s opportunities for energy storage, green transport and fossil-free steel production.

There are more reasons why hydrogen may become a paramount part of the energy system and energy mix in Sweden. Government of Sweden has decided that Sweden will have 100 percent renewable electricity production by 2040 (nuclear power excluded). This means that more electricity will be needed from renewable energy sources, but renewable energy sources will result in uneven production and power availability. Thus, energy must be able to be stored. And this is where hydrogen is a possibility.

Already planned hydrogen-related projects in Sweden have the potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 7.1 million tonnes per year in direct emissions by 2045, which corresponds to approximately 14 percent of Sweden’s national emissions. If you include the customer level, it is just over 30 percent. In addition, exports of climate-enhanced products can reduce emissions in other countries. LKAB’s carbon dioxide-free iron sponge could reduce emissions by 30 million tonnes at their customers abroad.

Fossil free Sweden is another driving force behind the increased focus on hydrogen. Fossil free Sweden highlights hydrogen as an important tool for achieving Sweden’s ambitious climate goals, but also as a focus for new industrial investments to create innovations, jobs and export products.

For further information –

Download the TERI report – on The Potential Role of Hydrogen in India – %27Harnessing the Hype%27.pdf

Watch this interesting video on the Hybrit project – HYBRIT – Episode 1: The HYBRIT initiative – YouTube

Best regards,

Leena Kukreja and Mini Nair