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Hydrogen and Clean Energy Needs


Introduction


Hydrogen is the most abundant and simplest element in the universe. On Earth, however, it is rarely found as a gas; therefore, it must be separated from other elements.


White hydrogen is a naturally occurring form that is occasionally found underground, but there are few viable extraction methods; therefore, experts seek to generate it artificially.


Hydrogen can be derived from a variety of resources, such as fossil fuels, nuclear energy, biomass, and renewable energy sources. This can be accomplished via a variety of methods. The resulting gas can be burned or utilised as an energy carrier. And, if generated from renewable sources, it can be a clean alternative to fossil fuel combustion.


Towards Decarbonisation


The world is in a unique and necessary phase of energy transition, where emerging low-carbon technologies are replacing existing fossil fuel resources and are shaping a new energy paradigm. Solar and wind power, lithium-ion batteries, and alternative fuels have paved the way for decarbonization in a variety of areas of the economy. However, certain sectors, such as industry and heavy transport, are difficult to decarbonize with the available low- or zero-carbon technologies. Hydrogen promises to address those challenges and contribute to the decarbonization of these hard-to-abate sectors.





Green Hydrogen


In the kaleidoscope of hydrogen hues, green hydrogen is produced without emitting any greenhouse gases. Electrolyzing water with clean electricity from surplus renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind, produces green hydrogen. Electrolyzers utilise an electrochemical reaction to split water into hydrogen and oxygen while emitting zero carbon dioxide. Due to the high cost of production, green hydrogen comprises only a small fraction of the total hydrogen supply.


This energy source has advantages and disadvantages that must be considered. Let's examine some of its most significant positive aspects:


Sustainable: Green hydrogen does not produce or emit any polluting byproducts during combustion or production.


Easily Storable: hydrogen is easy to store, which allows it to be used subsequently for other purposes and at times other than immediately after its production.


Versatile: Green hydrogen can be converted into electricity or synthetic gas and used for commercial, industrial, and transportation applications.


However, there are negative aspects of green hydrogen that should be considered.


High cost: energy from renewable sources, which is essential for producing green hydrogen through electrolysis, is more expensive to generate, thereby increasing the price of hydrogen.


Energy Extensive: The production of hydrogen in general and green hydrogen in particular requires more energy than the production of other fuels.


Volatile: Hydrogen is a highly volatile and flammable element, necessitating the implementation of stringent safety measures to prevent leaks and explosions.


Blue Hydrogen


Blue hydrogen is primarily produced from natural gas through a process known as steam reforming, which combines natural gas and heated water in the form of steam. The output is hydrogen, but carbon dioxide is also produced as a byproduct. Therefore, carbon capture and storage (CCS) is necessary to capture and store carbon.


Blue hydrogen is produced in the same manner as grey hydrogen, except carbon is captured and stored. This makes it significantly more eco-friendly, but comes with additional technical challenges and a substantial price increase.


Carbon capture and storage (CCS) has existed for some time, with heavy industry and power generation companies burning fossil fuels using the technology. The technology can capture up to 90 percent of CO2 emissions, so it's not perfect, but it's a significant improvement.


Grey hydrogen


This is currently the most prevalent method of hydrogen production. Using steam methane reformation, grey hydrogen is produced from natural gas or methane without capturing the greenhouse gases produced in the process.


Steam methane reforming (SMR) is the process by which hydrogen is produced from a methane source, such as natural gas, using steam at temperatures between 700°C and 1,000°C. The reforming of steam is endothermic, meaning that heat is required for the reaction to proceed.


Significance

Adoption of green hydrogen can enable India to abate 3.6 gigatonnes of CO2 emissions cumulatively between now and 2050. This can be a significant lever for the nation to contribute towards its recently announced climate targets and net-zero vision, as stated by NITI Aayog report.


As PM Modi’s speech outlines, “not only will green hydrogen be the basis of green growth through green jobs, but it will also set an example for the world towards clean energy transition.”



India’s Green Hydrogen Policy


The majority of major economies, including India, have committed to net-zero goals. The transition to green hydrogen and ammonia is one of the primary requirements for reducing emissions, particularly in hard to abate sectors. Government of India have had under consideration a number of policy measures in order to facilitate the transition from fossil fuel I fossil fuel based feed stocks to Green Hydrogen


  • Renewable Energy consumed for the production of Green Hydrogen / Green Ammonia must be counted towards the RPO compliance of the consuming entity. The renewable energy consumed beyond obligation of the\ producer shall count towards RPO compliance of the DISCOM in whose area the project is located.


  • Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) will create a single portal for all statutory clearances and permissions required for the production, transportation, storage, and distribution of Green Hydrogen/Green Ammonia.


  • The waiver of inter-state transmission charges shall be granted for a period of 25 years to the producer of Green Hydrogen and Green Ammonia from the projects commissioned before 30th June 2025.


  • The Government of India proposes to set up Manufacturing Zones. Green Hydrogen / Green Ammonia production plant can be set up in any of the Manufacturing Zones.


  • 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 purpose shall be provided by the respective Port Authorities at applicable charges.


Conclusion


According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), hydrogen could play a significant role in the future of clean energy.


As part of its Climate Action Platform, Shaping the Future of Energy, Materials, and Infrastructure, the World Economic Forum has launched the Accelerating Clean Hydrogen Initiative in an effort to accelerate the adoption of clean hydrogen.


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