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National Hydrogen Energy Mission

  • 25 Feb 2021
  • 6 min read

Why in News

The Union Budget for 2021-22 has announced a National Hydrogen Energy Mission (NHM) that will draw up a road map for using hydrogen as an energy source.The initiative has the potential of transforming transportation.

  • NHM initiative will capitalise on one of the most abundant elements on earth (Hydrogen) for a cleaner alternative fuel option.

Key Points

  • About the National Hydrogen Energy Mission:
    • Focus on generation of hydrogen from green power resources.
    • To link India’s growing renewable capacity with the hydrogen economy.
      • India's ambitious goal of 175 GW by 2022 got an impetus in the 2021-22 budget which allocated Rs. 1500 crore for renewable energy development and NHM.
      • The usage of hydrogen will not only help India in achieving its emission goals under the Paris Agreement, but will also reduce import dependency on fossil fuels.
  • Hydrogen:
    • Hydrogen is the lightest and first element on the periodic table. Since the weight of hydrogen is less than air, it rises in the atmosphere and is therefore rarely found in its pure form, H2.
    • At standard temperature and pressure, hydrogen is a nontoxic, nonmetallic, odorless, tasteless, colorless, and highly combustible diatomic gas.
    • Hydrogen fuel is a zero-emission fuel burned with oxygen. It can be used in fuel cells or internal combustion engines. It is also used as a fuel for spacecraft propulsion.
    • Type of Hydrogen:
      • Grey Hydrogen:
        • Constitutes India’s bulk Production.
        • Extracted from hydrocarbons (fossil fuels, natural gas).
        • By product: CO2
      • Blue Hydrogen:
        • Sourced from fossil fuels.
        • By product: CO, CO2
        • By products are Captured and Stored, so better than gey hydrogen.
      • Green Hydrogen:
        • Generated from renewable energy (like Solar, Wind).
        • Electricity splits water into hydrogen and oxygen.
        • By Products : Water, Water Vapor
  • Asia-Pacific Stance:
    • In Asia-Pacific sub-continent, Japan and South Korea are on the front foot in terms of hydrogen policy making.
    • In 2017, Japan formulated the Basic Hydrogen Strategy which sets out the country’s action plan till 2030, including the establishment of an international supply chain.
    • South Korea is operating hydrogen projects and Hydrogen Fuel Cell production units under the auspices of its Hydrogen Economy Development and Safe Management of Hydrogen Act, 2020.
      • South Korea has also passed the Economic Promotion and Safety Control of Hydrogen Act, which deals with three key areas - hydrogen vehicles, charging stations and fuel cells. This law is intended to bring transparency to the nation’s hydrogen pricing system.
  • Indian Context:
    • India has a huge edge in green hydrogen production owing to its favorable geographic conditions and presence of abundant natural elements.
    • The government has given impetus in scaling up the gas pipeline infrastructure across the length and breadth of the country, and has introduced reforms for the power grid, including the introduction of smart grids. Such steps are being taken to effectively integrate renewable energy in the present energy mix.
    • Capacity addition to renewable power generation, storage and transmission, producing green hydrogen in India can become cost effective which will not only guarantee energy security, but also ensure self-sufficiency gradually.
  • Policy Challenges :
    • One of the biggest challenges faced by the industry for using hydrogen commercially is the economic sustainability of extracting green or blue hydrogen.
      • The technology used in production and use of hydrogen like Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and hydrogen fuel cell technology are at nascent stage and are expensive which in turn increases the cost of production of hydrogen.
    • Maintenance costs for fuel cells post-completion of a plant can be costly.
    • The commercial usage of hydrogen as a fuel and in industries requires mammoth investment in R&D of such technology and infrastructure for production, storage, transportation and demand creation for hydrogen.

Way Forward

  • At this juncture, with a calibrated approach, India can uniquely position itself to take advantage with increasing investment in R&D, capacity building, compatible legislation, and the opportunity for creation of demand among its vast population. Such initiatives can propel India to become the most favored nation by exporting hydrogen to its neighbors and beyond.

Source: IE

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