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Boosting green hydrogen

Context:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently announced that India would aim for net-zero carbon emissions by 2070.

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Climate Change, Conservation of the Environment, Pollution control and Management), GS-III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Green Hydrogen?
  2. Challenges in using green hydrogen
  3. Need for Green Hydrogen
  4. About India’s Idea on Green Hydrogen
  5. Way Forward

What is Green Hydrogen?

‘Green hydrogen’ is hydrogen made by electrolysis of water using renewable power from wind and solar. Electrolysis splits water into hydrogen and oxygen.

Significance of green hydrogen

  • The use of green hydrogen in place of carbon-intensive fossil fuels will help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and will be imperative to achieve the target of expert guidelines on global warming to remain under 1.5° C.
  • Green hydrogen can be a viable alternative to fossil fuels and can be utilised for the generation of power and will be a major step forward in achieving the target of ‘net zero’ emission.
  • Also given that green hydrogen only emits water as its emission product, the usage of green hydrogen will also help end the premature deaths due to air pollution.
  • The International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts the additional power demand to be to the tune of 25%-30% by the year 2040 to meet the energy requirements of the growing population.
  • Green hydrogen can be an important alternative fuel source given the circular nature of this fuel as compared to the fast depleting reserves of fossil fuels. Hydrogen offers a circular sustainable fuel utilization cycle wherein water is electrolyzed to give hydrogen fuel which is burnt to give energy and water again.
  • Also, for a country like India which is the world’s fourth-largest energy-consuming country (behind China, the United States and the European Union), increased usage of green hydrogen will help it reduce its dependence on imported fossil fuels and thus help usher in energy security while also helping save valuable foreign exchange.
  • Hydrogen is the most abundant element on the planet making it easily available. However, it should be noted that given its high reactivity it is rarely available naturally in its elemental form. Water which is a source of green hydrogen is easily available.

How is Green Hydrogen Produced?

  • Several major economies that are enacting legislation to limit carbon emissions are also catalysing worldwide efforts toward green hydrogen transitions.
  • To produce hydrogen by electrolysis a low-carbon energy source is required. Depending on the technique of generation, the hydrogen is designated with a colour.
  • While hydrogen produced from renewable energy sources is green, it is blue when the carbon produced by the process is caught and stored without being released into the atmosphere.
  • When the carbon is not collected, the hydrogen produced is labelled grey.
  • Almost 70% of the money necessary to create green hydrogen via electrolysis goes into creating renewable energy.

Challenges in using green hydrogen

  • The major challenge in the usage of green hydrogen will be its storage. Given the very low density of hydrogen, it will require large volumes for its storage. Alternatively if one chooses to store it in the liquid form, reducing the storage space requires the maintenance of temperatures as low as minus 253° C. This will entail huge costs.
  • The ‘production cost’ of ‘Green hydrogen’ has been considered to be a prime obstacle to the usage of green hydrogen. According to studies by the International Renewable Energy Agency, the production cost of this ‘green hydrogen’ is expected to be around $1.5 per kilogram by adopting various conservative measures.

Need for Green Hydrogen

  • The Government of India is advocating for the use of green hydrogen in the production of fertilisers and the refining of petroleum.
  • Eventually, any company would be supposed to rely on hydrogen for all of its energy needs.
  • Carbon has traditionally been employed to suck up oxygen, resulting in carbon dioxide emissions, although hydrogen can also accomplish the job.

About India’s Idea on Green Hydrogen

  • The Prime Minister recently stated that India’s goal is to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2070.
  • The declaration was bolstered by the country’s solar accomplishments since 2015.
  • India is the only major economy whose policies and actions are on pace to restrict world average temperature rise to less than 2°C over pre-industrial levels, as stipulated in the Paris Agreement.
  • To reduce reliance on fossil fuels and make better use of India’s solar capacity, the synergy between renewable energy and green hydrogen must be harnessed.
  • The government aims to make it necessary for companies (initially fertilisers and oil refining) to utilise green hydrogen for a set percentage of their overall energy needs.
  • According to a recent Business Standard report, the government may implement a Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) plan for the manufacture of electrolysers used in the production of green hydrogen.

Way Forward

  • Government financing and long-term strategies that encourage private investment while adhering to standards and a progressive compliance framework are required to enhance green hydrogen production.
  • Hydrogen’s cross-sectoral potential should be leveraged based on the cost and simplicity of adoption of each area.
  • As part of near-term aims, a few critical industries with minimal transition costs, such as refineries, fertilisers, and natural gas, could be compelled to utilise hydrogen to save costs.
  • Steel, cement, and road mobility needs should be legislated as part of medium-term targets.
  • Heavy-duty vehicles should be eligible for both state and federal subsidies. In the long run, green hydrogen should be mandatory in shipping, aircraft, energy storage, and solutions for power outages.
  • Enforcing time-bound mid- and long-term regulations would encourage the private sector to invest more in green hydrogen, giving it the necessary push in its early phases.
  • India should replace 8.5 percent of its grey hydrogen production with green hydrogen in order to lessen its reliance on imported ammonia.
  • By the end of the decade, it should seek to create 4-6 million tonnes of green hydrogen per year and export at least 2 million tonnes.
  • India has already taken the first step, with the Indian Oil Corporation issuing a global tender to build two green hydrogen-producing facilities at its refineries in Mathura and Panipat.

-Source: The Hindu

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September 2022
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