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Union Cabinet approves Green Hydrogen Mission

  • Published
    5th Jan, 2023
Context

The government has formally approved the National Green Hydrogen Mission with an aim of making India a global hub for the production of green hydrogen.

Background:

  • While hydrogen’s potential as a clean fuel source has a history of nearly 150 years, it was only after the oil price shocks of the 1970s that the possibility of hydrogen replacing fossil fuels came to be considered seriously.
  • Later on, Japan’s Honda and Toyota, and South Korea’s Hyundai have since moved decisively to commercialise this technology.
About the National Green Hydrogen mission:
  • Objective: It aimed at;
    • The creation of export opportunities for green hydrogen and its derivatives;
    • Decarbonisation of the energy sector and use in mobility applications in a bid to lower the dependence on imported fossil fuels; and
    • The development of indigenous manufacturing capacities.
  • Significance: It will help to fuel key sectors of the economy using hydrogen that is made by splitting water through an electrical process called electrolysis, using a device called an electrolyser that is powered entirely by renewable energy.
  • The draft Mission is likely to propose support for the production and deployment of green hydrogen, alongside a major push for hydrogen in the auto sector.
  • It will also promote R&D for fuel cell development and pilot projects for fuel cell vehicles.

Hydrogen as a fuel:

  • Hydrogen, the most common element in nature, exists only in combination with other elements and has to be extracted from naturally occurring compounds like water.
  • Hydrogen is a clean molecule, but the process of extracting it is energy intensive.

Benefits:

  • It is a clean burning molecule that can decarbonise a range of sectors including iron and steel, chemicals, and transportation.
  • Renewable energy that cannot be stored or used by the grid can be channelled to produce hydrogen.

Green hydrogen is not commercially viable at present.

What is Green Hydrogen?

  • The sources and processes by which hydrogen is derived are categorised by colour tabs. Hydrogen produced from fossil fuels is called grey hydrogen, which constitutes the bulk of the hydrogen generated today.
  • Hydrogen generated from fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage options is called blue hydrogen, while hydrogen generated using electrolysers powered by renewable power sources is called green hydrogen.

What India’s Green hydrogen mission aspires to?

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is in the process of formulating guidelines for the scheme that seeks to promote the development of green hydrogen production capacity of at least 5 million metric tonnes (MMT) per annum with an associated renewable energy capacity addition of about 125 gigawatts (GW) by 2030.

  • Making it viable for all: The current cost in India is around Rs.350-400 per kg which is likely to become viable only at a production cost of under Rs.100/ kg.
  • Providing Subsidy support: With implicit subsidy support and a government-backed R&D push, the plan is to target lower costs of renewable power generation and to bring down the costs of electrolysers to make the production of green hydrogen cost-competitive.
  • Replace fossil fuels: Green hydrogen could eventually potentially replace fossil fuels and fossil fuel-based feedstock in fertiliser production, petroleum refining, steel production, and transport applications.

Where this Green hydrogen energy be used?

  • Inclusion of renewable sources of energy: The electricity generation capacity addition over the last 10 years by way of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, can be diverted for green hydrogen production during non-peak hours.
  • For the steel sector:
    • The steel sector has been made a stakeholder, and it has been proposed to set up pilot plants with part funding from the government.
    • It will aim to explore the feasibility of using green hydrogen in Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) production by partly replacing natural gas with hydrogen in gas-based DRI plants.
    • Based on the success of the pilot projects, the gas-based DRI units are to be encouraged for large-scale adoption of the process.

Recent Government Interventions:

US-based Ohmium International has commissioned India’s first green-hydrogen factory in Karnataka.

  • Strategic Interventions for Green Hydrogen Transition Programme: A major part of this is a proposed Strategic Interventions for Green Hydrogen Transition Programme (SIGHT), under which two financial incentive mechanisms are to be provided.
  • Also, it is targeting domestic manufacturing of electrolysers and the production of green hydrogen promoted to achieve a reduction in fossil fuel imports and abatement of annual greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
  • Kerala has set up a high-level working group for its own Hydrogen Economy Mission to devise a strategic roadmap, policy formulations, and implementation plans for facilitating investments in green hydrogen and making the state “a green hydrogen hub”.
  • Companies such as Reliance Industries Ltd, Adani Enterprises, JSW Energy, and Acme Solar have plans to tap the green hydrogen opportunity.
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