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Future Fuel - Hydrogen

Green Hydrogen is future fuel which will make Bharat atmnirbhar in energy needs, reduce imports of crude oil, meet global climate targets and will save our land from natural disasters caused by vitiated environment by excessive carbon emission. — Vinod Johri


Carbon free hydrogenis topmost in the global green agenda. It replaces today’s transition fuel—natural gas—which though being cleaner than coal, diesel, or heavy fuel oil, fails to deliver the sharp reductions envisaged in carbon intensity to limit global warming to between 1.5 to 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

Hydrogen and ammonia are expected to be the future fuels, and production of these fuels using renewable energy is one of the major requirements towards sustainable energy security and reduction in fossil fuel imports for the country. Green hydrogen (GH) is generated by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen in an electrolyser using renewable energy. The hydrogen produced can be combined with nitrogen to make ammonia, avoiding hydrocarbons in the production process. Green ammonia is used to store energy and in fertiliser manufacturing.

GH is not only a cleaner substitute for natural gas but is also fit for purpose as a store of energy, and, therefore, useful in balancing intermittent electricity supply from solar and wind. Presently, natural gas, our limited hydro power resources and coal generators fill the gap. GH can also replace coal in   industrial applications in steel and fertiliser manufacturing. It is also a suitable fuel for shipping and other heavy road freight vehicles because its energy density is 3 times of diesel and 3.5 times of heavy fuel oil.

In November 2021 at COP 26 in Glasgow, Prime Minister Modi made five commitments—achieve Net Zero by 2070, and by 2030, take cumulative non fossil fuel generation capacity to 500 GW, meet 50 percent of energy needs from renewable energy, reduce the energy intensity of the economy by 45 percent, and reduce carbon emissions by 1 billion tons.  

Bharat has a deferred strike date for turning Net Zero (2070 instead of 2050 for the advanced economies and 2060 for China). Our per capita carbon emission rates are low, so we have the carbon envelop to take a more measured view on the carbon transition than most advanced economies. But faced by greenconditionalities being imposed —a green tax on goods entering the EU and the linking of the flow and cost of international finance to green business credentials, an early adoption of Green Hydrogen (GH) demonstrates commitment to global sustainability.

Government of Bharat notified first phase of its Green Hydrogen Policy as a step forward towards National Hydrogen Mission. The mission aims to make Bharat a green hydrogen hub and help to meet its climate targets. 

National Hydrogen Mission 

(Ministry of Power, Government of Bharat, Notification No. 23 / 02 / 2022 – R & R dated 17.02.2022)

“Hon’ble Prime Minister launched the National Hydrogen Mission on Bharat’s 75th Independence Day (i.e. 15th August, 2021). The Mission aims to aid the government in meeting its climate targets and making Bharat a green hydrogen hub. This will help in meeting the target of production of 5 million tonnes of Green hydrogen by 2030 and the related development of renewable energy capacity.

Hydrogen and Ammonia are envisaged to be the future fuels to replace fossil fuels. Production of these fuels by using power from renewable energy, termed as green hydrogen and green ammonia, is one of the major requirements towards environmentally sustainable energy security of the nation. Government of Bharat is taking various measures to facilitate the transition from fossil fuel / fossil fuel based feed stocks to green hydrogen/green ammonia. The notification of this policy is one of the major steps in this endeavour.

The policy provides as follows: 
i.    Green Hydrogen/Ammonia manufacturers may purchase renewable power from the power exchange or set up renewable energy capacity themselves or through any other, developer, anywhere.

ii.    Open access will be granted within 15 days of receipt of application.

iii.    The Green Hydrogen / Ammonia manufacturer can bank his unconsumed renewable power, up to 30 days, with distribution company and take it back when required.

iv.    Distribution licensees can also procure and supply Renewable Energy to the manufacturers of Green Hydrogen/Green Ammonia in their States at concessional prices which will only include the cost of procurement, wheeling charges and a small margin as determined by the State Commission.

v.    Waiver of inter-state transmission charges for a period of 25 years will be allowed to the manufacturers of Green Hydrogen and Green Ammonia for the projects commissioned before 30th June 2025.

vi.    The manufacturers of Green Hydrogen/Ammonia and the renewable energy plant shall be given connectivity to the grid on priority basis to avoid any procedural delays.

vii.    The benefit of Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) will be granted incentive to the hydrogen/Ammonia manufacturer and the Distribution licensee for consumption of renewable power.

viii. To ensure ease of doing business a single portal for carrying out all the activities including statutory clearances in a time bound manner will be set up by MNRE.

ix.    Connectivity, at the generation end and the Green Hydrogen / Green Ammonia manufacturing end, to the ISTS for Renewable Energy capacity set up for the purpose of manufacturing Green Hydrogen/Green Ammonia shall be granted on priority.

x.    Manufacturers of Green Hydrogen/Green Ammonia shall be allowed to set up bunkers near Ports for storage of Green Ammonia for export/use by shipping. The land for the storage for this purpose shall be provided by the respective Port Authorities at applicable charges.

The implementation of this Policy will provide clean fuel to the common people of the country. This will reduce dependence on fossil fuel and also reduce crude oil imports. The objective also is for our country to emerge as an export Hub for Green Hydrogen and Green Ammonia. 

The policy promotes Renewable Energy (RE) generation as RE will be the basic ingredient in making green hydrogen.  This in turn will help in meeting the international commitments for clean energy.”

The policy is an important first step to enable a hydrogen ecosystem. It has tried to address some of the key demands of the industry in terms of open access, grid banking and single window approval mechanism.

The policy aims to increase solar installations and decreasing renewable power generation costs to produce low-cost green hydrogen / ammonia for exports. Further to this first phase of policy announcement, the government plans to introduce Green Hydrogen Consumption Obligation in petroleum refining and fertiliser production on similar lines of renewable purchase obligation. It will mandate the use of green hydrogen and ammonia as a certain proportion of requirements in a phased manner. Initially, the refineries and fertiliser plants would be required to use 10% green hydrogen, which would be increased to 20%-25% in three to four years. The mandate will support the deployment of green hydrogen manufacturing until its cost comes down in parity with grey hydrogen.

The production cost can go down if electrolysers are indigenously manufactured. Bharat is targeting 15 gigawatts of electrolyser-making capacity and is considering production-linked incentives to boost local manufacturing. Currently, alkaline water electrolysis technique is being used, which consumes more electricity to produce hydrogen, while use of polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolysis would bring down the electricity requirement resulting in further cost reduction for hydrogen production.

It is likely that the bulk of hydrogen manufacture will happen in states on the eastern and western seaboard, given the potential for the use of GH in shipping as also for exports. The MOP policy makes port authorities liable for making land available for setting up GH or ammonia bunkers. The bulk of the incremental RE is also likely to be solar. 

To support this transition from grey hydrogen to green hydrogen and to cater to growing hydrogen demand, Bharat will have to invest continuously for innovation, R&D projects and demonstration projects to support commercialisation of upcoming technologies and accelerate cost reduction of green hydrogen production.

The Ministry of Power has done what it could to incentivise the production of GH. Other ministries are to yet to add their own incentives to the pot in this unique, modular style of policy formulation.

Green Hydrogen is future fuel which will make Bharat atmnirbhar in energy needs, reduce imports of crude oil, meet global climate targets and will save our land from natural disasters caused by vitiated environment by excessive carbon emission.         

(Source :Union Ministry of Power Govt of India, Observer Research Foundation, Mint, Indian Express)

Vinod Johri: Sah VicharPramukh, Swadeshi Jagran Manch, Delhi Prant

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