A fresh push for green hydrogen
May 04, 2021
A fresh push for green hydrogen
Q. Why is this in news?
- India will soon join 15 other countries in the hydrogen club as it prepares to launch the National Hydrogen Energy Mission (NHEM).
- In 2030, according to an analysis by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), green hydrogen demand could be up to 1 million tonnes in India across application in sectors such as ammonia, steel, methanol, transport and energy storage.
Q. What are the challenges?
Several challenges in scaling up to commercial-scale operations persist. Following are five recommendations.
1) Decentralise green hydrogen production
- Decentralised hydrogen production must be promoted through open access of renewable power to an electrolyser (which splits water to form H2 and O2 using electricity).
- Currently, most renewable energy resources that can produce low-cost electricity are situated far from potential demand centres.
- Producing oxygen at such locations and then shipped, it would significantly erode the economics of it.
- A more viable option would be wheeling electricity directly from the solar plant.
- However, the electricity tariffs could double when supplying open-access power across State boundaries.
- Therefore, operationalising open access in letter and spirit, as envisioned in the Electricity Act, 2003, must be an early focus.
2) Ensure access to round-the-clock renewable power
- To minimise intermittency associated with renewable energy, for a given level of hydrogen production capacity, a green hydrogen facility will store hydrogen to ensure continuous hydrogen supply.
- Therefore, as we scale up to the target of having 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030, aligning hydrogen production needs with broader electricity demand in the economy would be critical.
3) Blending green hydrogen in industrial sector
- We must take steps to blend green hydrogen in existing processes, especially the industrial sector.
- Improving the reliability of hydrogen supply by augmenting green hydrogen with conventionally produced hydrogen will significantly improve the economics of the fuel.
- This will also help build a technical understanding of the processes involved in handling hydrogen on a large scale.
4) Facilitate investment
- Policymakers must facilitate investments in early-stage piloting and the research and development needed to advance the technology for use in India.
- The growing interest in hydrogen is triggered by the anticipated steep decline in electrolyser costs.
- Public funding will have to lead the way, but the private sector, too, has significant gains to be made by securing its energy future.
5) Focus on domestic manufacturing
- India must learn from the experience of the National Solar Mission and focus on domestic manufacturing.
- Establishing an end-to-end electrolyser manufacturing facility would require measures extending beyond the existing performance-linked incentive programme.
- India needs to secure supplies of raw materials that are needed for this technology.
- Further, major institutions like the DRDO, BARC and CSIR laboratories have been developing electrolyser and fuel-cell technologies.