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Green Hydrogen

  • 01 Jul 2021
  • 7 min read

Why in News

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), hydrogen will make up 12% of the energy mix by 2050.

  • The agency also suggested that about 66% of this hydrogen used must come from water instead of natural gas.
  • Recently, IRENA has released the 'World Energy Transitions Outlook' Report.


  • Hydrogen is one of the most abundant elements on earth for a cleaner alternative fuel option.
  • Type of hydrogen depend up on the process of its formation:
    • Green hydrogen is produced by electrolysis of water using renewable energy (like Solar, Wind) and has a lower carbon footprint.
      • Electricity splits water into hydrogen and oxygen.
      • By Products : Water, Water Vapor.
    • Brown hydrogen is produced using coal where the emissions are released to the air.
    • Grey hydrogen is produced from natural gas where the associated emissions are released to the air.
    • Blue hydrogen is produced from natural gas, where the emissions are captured using carbon capture and storage.
  • Uses:
    • Hydrogen is an energy carrier, not an energy source and can deliver or store a tremendous amount of energy.
    • It can be used in fuel cells to generate electricity, or power and heat.
      • Today, hydrogen is most commonly used in petroleum refining and fertilizer production, while transportation and utilities are emerging markets.
    • Hydrogen and fuel cells can provide energy for use in diverse applications, including distributed or combined-heat-and-power; backup power; systems for storing and enabling renewable energy; portable power etc.
    • Due to their high efficiency and zero-or near zero-emissions operation, hydrogen and fuel cells have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emission in many applications.

Key Points

  • Current Status Worldwide:
    • Less than 1% of hydrogen produced is green hydrogen.
    • Manufacturing and deployment of electrolysers will have to increase at an unprecedented rate by 2050 from the current capacity of 0.3 gigawatts to almost 5,000 gigawatts.
  • Indian Scenario:
    • Consumption of Hydrogen: India consumes about six million tonnes of hydrogen every year for the production of ammonia and methanol in industrial sectors, including fertilisers and refineries.
      • This could increase to 28 million tonnes by 2050, principally due to the rising demand from the industry, but also due to the expansion of transport and power sectors.
    • Cost of Green Hydrogen: By 2030, the cost of green hydrogen is expected to compete with that of hydrocarbon fuels (coal, Crude Oil, natural gas).
      • The price will decrease further as production and sales increase. It is also projected that India's hydrogen demand will increase five-fold by 2050, with 80% of it being green.
    • Exporter of Green Hydrogen: India will become a net exporter of green hydrogen by 2030 due to its cheap renewable energy tariffs.
  • Benefits of Using Green Hydrogen for India:
    • Green hydrogen can drive India’s transition to clean energy, combat climate change.
      • Under the Paris Climate Agreement, India pledged to reduce the emission intensity of its economy by 33-35% from 2005 levels by 2030.
    • It will reduce import dependency on fossil fuels.
    • The localisation of electrolyser production and the development of green hydrogen projects can create a new green technologies market in India worth $18-20 billion and thousands of jobs.
  • Potential:
    • India has a favourable geographic location and abundance of sunlight and wind for the production of green hydrogen.
    • Green hydrogen technologies are being promoted in sectors where direct electrification isn't feasible.
      • Heavy duty, long-range transport, some industrial sectors and long-term storage in the power sector are some of these sectors.
    • The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has circulated a draft cabinet note to establish a hydrogen ecosystem in the country.
    • The nascent stage of this industry allows for the creation of regional hubs that export high-value green products and engineering, procurement and construction services.
  • Challenges:
    • Economic Sustainability: One of the biggest challenges faced by the industry for using hydrogen commercially is the economic sustainability of extracting green hydrogen.
      • For transportation fuel cells, hydrogen must be cost-competitive with conventional fuels and technologies on a per-mile basis.
    • High Costs and Lack of Supporting Infrastructure:
      • Fuel cells which convert hydrogen fuel to usable energy for cars, are still expensive.
      • The hydrogen station infrastructure needed to refuel hydrogen fuel cell cars is still widely underdeveloped.
  • Step Taken:

Way Forward

  • Set a national target for green hydrogen and electrolyser capacity: A phased manufacturing programme should be used to build a vibrant hydrogen products export industry in India such as green steel (commercial hydrogen steel plant).
  • Implement complementary solutions that create virtuous cycles: For example hydrogen infrastructure can be set up for refueling, heating and generating electricity at airports.
  • Decentralised 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).
  • Providing Finance: Policymakers must facilitate investments in early-stage piloting and the research and development needed to advance the technology for use in India.

Source: DTE

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