Green Hydrogen Mission – Explained, pointwise

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Introduction

The Union Cabinet has formally approved the National Green Hydrogen Mission. The Mission has stated aims of making India energy independent and a global hub for the production of green hydrogen, along with decarbonising major sectors of the economy. The Mission has an outlay of INR 19,744 crore. Green Hydrogen is being considered as one of the vital avenue for energy transition away from fossil fuels, for both the mobility (transportation) and industrial sectors. Many breakthroughs have been made in the Green Hydrogen Technology, yet many challenges remain for scaling-up the utilization and adoption of Green Hydrogen technologies. Hence, a mission-mode approach through the Green Hydrogen Mission is a welcome step.

What is Green Hydrogen?

Hydrogen is the lightest element found in nature. In standard conditions it exists as a gas of diatomic molecules (H2). Hydrogen is the most abundant chemical substance in the universe, constituting roughly 75% of all normal matter. Stars including the Sun, are mainly composed of hydrogen. (though in the plasma state instead of gaseous state). The hydrogen gas can act as a useful fuel. Its combustion with oxygen releases a lot of energy and produces water as byproduct. Hence, it is more environment-friendly as it does not produce carbon-dioxide (produced by combustion of fossil fuels) and thus does not contribute to climate change.

There are several ways to produce Hydrogen on industrial scale (large-scale). These include steam reforming of natural gas, oil reforming, or coal gasification. A small percentage is also produced using more energy-intensive methods such as the electrolysis of water. The hydrogen produced via these methods have been given various different names in order to distinguish them in terms of their carbon footprints.

Grey Hydrogen is traditionally produced from methane (CH4), split with steam into carbon-dioxide (CO2, Green House Gas) and hydrogen. Grey hydrogen is increasingly being produced from coal, with significantly higher CO2 emissions per unit of hydrogen produced. It is produced at industrial scale today. It has no energy transition value.

Blue hydrogen follows the same process as grey, with the additional technologies necessary to capture the CO2 produced (when hydrogen is split from methane (or from coal)) and store it for long term. It is not possible to capture 100% of the CO2 produced and not all means of storing it are equally effective in the long term.

Green hydrogen is defined as hydrogen produced by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using renewable electricity.

 

Types of Hydrogen Green Hydrogen Mission UPSC

Source: WEF, IRENA

Read More: Green Hydrogen: Potential, Issues and Solutions – Explained, pointwise
What are the benefits of Green Hydrogen?

Net Zero Transition: The use of hydrogen in combustion has zero GHG emissions. Since, renewable energy is used in producing the Green Hydrogen, the entire chain (production to consumption) has very low GHG emissions (in contrast to Grey Hydrogen). Thus Green Hydrogen is vital to Net Zero transition. It can be utilized to decarbonize the heavy industry, long haul freight, shipping, and aviation sectors. Governments and industry have both acknowledged Green Hydrogen as an important pillar of a Net Zero economy.

Clean Energy Solution: (a) Energy Storage Solution: Hydrogen is emerging as one of the leading options for storing energy from renewables. Hydrogen-based fuels can potentially transport energy from renewables over long distances; from regions with abundant energy resources, to energy-intensive areas thousands of kilometers away; (b) Versatility: Green Hydrogen can be transformed into electricity or synthetic gas and used for commercial, industrial or mobility purposes.

Uses of Green Hydrogen UPSC

Source: WEF, IRENA

Availability of Water: Green Hydrogen can be produced from water which has abundant availability.

What are the challenges in scaling up adoption of Green Hydrogen?

High Cost: The process of production of hydrogen using electrolysis consumes a lot of energy. The process uses high end-technological Electrolysers. Electrolysers are devices that use electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen and are expensive. Hence, the cost of production of Green Hydrogen is high.
High Energy Consumption: The production of hydrogen in general and green hydrogen in particular requires more energy than other fuels.

Safety Issues: Hydrogen is a highly volatile and flammable element and extensive safety measures are therefore required to prevent leakage and explosions.

What steps have been taken to promote Green Hydrogen?
India

National Green Hydrogen Mission:  The intent of the Mission is to incentivise the commercial production of green hydrogen and make India a net exporter of Green Hydrogen by creating opportunities for exports. The Mission is also aimed at decarbonisation of the energy sector and use in mobility applications in a bid to lower the dependence on imported fossil fuels; and to develop indigenous manufacturing capacities. It will also help in creating employment opportunities; and developing new technologies such as efficient fuel cells.

The mission has laid out a target to develop Green Hydrogen production capacity of at least 5 MMT (Million Metric Tonne) per annum. This is alongside adding renewable energy capacity of about 125 GW (gigawatt) in the country.

The Government hopes that by 2030, the Mission will help bring in investments worth INR 8 trillion and create over six lakh jobs. 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.

There are two umbrella sub-missions under the Green Hydrogen Mission: (a) Strategic Interventions for Green Hydrogen Transition Programme (SIGHT) will fund the domestic manufacturing of electrolysers and produce Green Hydrogen; (b) To support pilot projects in emerging end-use sectors and production pathways. States and regions capable of supporting large scale production and/or utilisation of hydrogen will be identified and developed as Green Hydrogen Hubs.

INR 17,490 crore has been earmarked for the SIGHT programme, INR 1,466 crore for pilot projects and hydrogen hubs, INR 400 crore for R&D and INR 388 crore for other parts of the Mission.

Green Hydrogen Policy: The Government had launched the Green Hydrogen Policy, 2022 in February 2022 that envisages to build a prominent role for clean fuels in the country’s fossil fuel-dominated energy mix.

Read More: Green Hydrogen Policy – Explained, pointwise

Other Initiatives (States/PSUs): (a) 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”; (b) In April 2022, state-owned Oil India Limited commissioned India’s first 99.99% pure Green Hydrogen plant in Jorhat, Assam.; (c) Indian Oil Corporation Ltd has set up an R&D centre, in collaboration with Tata Motor Limited. The Centre had earlier carried out trials of hydrogen fuel cell buses

Private Sector Initiatives: Companies such as Reliance Industries Ltd, Adani Enterprises, JSW Energy, and Acme Solar have plans to tap the Green Hydrogen opportunities. Adani Group has announced in June that it will collaborate with France’s Total Energy to jointly create the “world’s largest green hydrogen ecosystem”. US-based Ohmium International has commissioned India’s first Green Hydrogen Electrolyzer Gigafactory to manufacture Indian-made Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) hydrogen  electrolyzers in Karnataka.

Global Initiatives

(a) The Green Hydrogen Catapult, a United Nations initiative to bring down the cost of Green hydrogen has announced that it will increase its goal for green electrolysers from 25 gigawatts set last year, to 45 gigawatts by 2027; (b) The European Commission has adopted a set of legislative proposals to decarbonize the EU gas market by facilitating the uptake of renewable and low carbon gases, including hydrogen; (c) The UAE had declared new hydrogen strategy aiming to hold a fourth of the global low-carbon hydrogen market by 2030; (d) Japan announced it will invest US$ 3.4 billion from its Green Innovation Fund to accelerate research and development and promotion of hydrogen use over the next 10 years.

What more steps can be taken to scale-up production/adoption of Green Hydrogen?

First, To gain access to a consistent supply of components, India must improve the manufacturing capabilities and skill levels of its small and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises (SMEs).

Second, There is a need to build a transmission network capable of delivering hydrogen from supply-spots to industrial centres across the country.

Third, Although India has the potential to become a leading producer of Green Hydrogen, there is a lack of requisite infrastructure to fully realise this vision. It is necessary to build supply chains in the form of pipelines, tankers, intermediate storage, and last-leg distribution networks etc.

Fourth, Incentives must be announced in order to persuade enough industrial hydrogen users to switch to Green Hydrogen.

Fifth, It is imperative to implement an effective skill development programme to ensure that lakhs of workers are adequately trained to adapt to a viable Green Hydrogen economy.

Conclusion

Shift to Green Hydrogen based economy requires a mission mode approach to ensure quick transition without any disruption. The Green Hydrogen Mission is a foresighted initiative in this regard. The focus should be on effective implementation with the target oriented approach. The Green Hydrogen Mission may be single biggest initiative in transition of the economy to Net Zero.

Syllabus: GS III, Infrastructure: Energy; GS III, Conservation.

Source: Indian Express, The Hindu, The Hindu, MoneyControl, WEF

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