Commercial production of green hydrogen

Initiatives to produce green hydrogen on commercial scales in India have gained momentum, with ten companies being selected under the Strategic Interventions for Green Hydrogen Transition (SIGHT) Scheme earlier this month.
Commercial production of green hydrogen

 Initiatives to produce green hydrogen on commercial scales in India have gained momentum, with ten companies being selected under the Strategic Interventions for Green Hydrogen Transition (SIGHT) Scheme earlier this month. These companies will set up production facilities for green hydrogen with a total capacity of 4.12 lakh metric tonnes per year. The objective of the Green Hydrogen Mission launched last year is to make India the global hub for the production, usage, and export of green hydrogen and its derivatives. Achieving the target is also critical to boosting green energy production in the country, but its adoption in the decarbonised transport sector will be quite challenging in the near future. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, which is implementing the mission, has also rolled out the setting up of manufacturing capacities for electrolysers under the SIGHT scheme by awarding contracts to eight companies for a total capacity of 1500 MW per annum. Key components of the mission include facilitating demand creation through exports and domestic utilisation; pilot projects for steel, mobility, shipping, decentralised energy applications, hydrogen production from biomass, hydrogen storage, etc.; support for infrastructure development; a research and development programmeme, including through a public-private partnership framework; and a public awareness and outreach programme. The Central Government has earmarked a financial outlay of Rs. 19,744 crore till 2029–30 for the successful execution of the mission, and the smooth flow of funds will be a key determinant of the pace of mission progress. The scheme guidelines for SIGHT Mode 2A (aggregation model for green ammonia) and Mode 2B (aggregation model for green hydrogen) were also notified last month, while the scheme guidelines for the implementation of pilot projects for the use of green hydrogen in the shipping sector were issued on February 1. The projects under these schemes, once finalised, are likely to come up in various states and UTs in the country, according to an official release. A key component of the mission is the identification and development of regions capable of supporting large-scale production and/or utilisation of hydrogen as green hydrogen hubs. India and Saudi Arabia signed a Memorandum of Understanding in the field of energy in September last year for cooperation in the fields of hydrogen, electricity, grid interconnection between the two countries, renewable energy, energy efficiency, petroleum, natural gas, strategic petroleum reserves, and energy security. “Conducting necessary feasibility studies (technical, economic, and environmental) for the purpose of electrical interconnection between the two countries and co-development of projects and co-production of Green/Clean Hydrogen and renewable energy in both countries,” reads one clause of the MoU, which indicates the prospects of exporting green hydrogen produced in India and the country’s contribution towards increasing usage on a global scale. The outcome document adopted by G20 Energy Ministers, who met under India’s G20 Presidency in Goa in July last year, envisages increasing the pace of energy transitions and the adoption of voluntary principles on hydrogen. The document emphasises that energy security, energy access, market stability, and energy affordability need to be advanced simultaneously while advancing energy transitions in pursuit of economic growth and prosperity and ensuring access to modern energy for all, leaving no one behind. They agreed that 730 million people in the world do not have access to energy, and this needs to be urgently addressed. The G20 High Level Voluntary Principles on Hydrogen underscored the importance of five high-level guiding principles, which include encouraging collaboration on the development of national standards and work towards a globally harmonised approach to certification for hydrogen produced from zero- and low-emission technologies and its derivatives, such as ammonia, promoting free and fair trade of hydrogen produced in line with WTO rules, supporting resilient and diversified supply chains, accelerating technological innovation, business models, and R&D collaboration to enhance international cooperation. Scientific studies have established that fuel-cell electric vehicles powered by hydrogen are more energy efficient than fossil-fuel-powered vehicles and more environmentally friendly. However, when it comes to comparing battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) and hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles, the higher fuel efficiency of BEVs makes it a natural choice between the two for vehicle owners. This reality explains why the adoption of hydrogen as an alternative fuel for the decarbonising transport sector will continue to be a challenge until new technologies are found and adopted to bring down the cost. Domestic availability of lithium is a crucial factor that determines the upfront cost of BEV, and with India being dependent on the import of these batteries, the production of green hydrogen is also essential to building resilience in the transport sector for continuing the decarbonisation initiatives. Reducing the cost of electrolysis is one way to reduce the cost of green hydrogen and make hydrogen-powered fuel cells competitive with electric vehicle batteries to attract the transport sector to go for alternative fuel. Initiatives under the Mission will go a long way towards the adoption of green hydrogen as a future fuel to decarbonise the transport sector.

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