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India On the path to be a Green Hydrogen Economy

Poor air quality index of major Indian cities, high fossil fuel import bills and concerns about India’s energy security are some of the reasons that drive India to transit itself towards renewable sources of energy. For the same reason India has pledged to curb its carbon emission per unit of GDP by 33 to 35 % by the year 2030 in the Paris Climate Agreement held in the year 2015. Since then, India has announced an ambitious renewable energy program and has done a lot to bring down carbon emission and is the only country among the G20 nations which is on track to meet what it has promised in 2015 under the Paris Agreement on climate change. Despite this, some experts feel that India’s pledge to contribute to the reducing global emissions by 50 % by 2030 is insufficient and nation has to do more than what it has pledged.

This provides India an opportunity to explore Hydrogen as one of the potential clean fuel to decarbonize the Indian economy and move towards a zero-carbon emission nation status. Hydrogen is the most abundant material present on earth and can be used as clean source of energy. Till date most of the hydrogen used across the world is blue or grey hydrogen (produced using natural gases with some carbon emission). With the advent of green hydrogen (hydrogen produced by splitting water molecules via renewable sources of energy) production technologies, declining cost of electrolyzers and fuel cell stacks, experts feel that green hydrogen could create a paradigm shift for energy transition across the world. And within a decade green hydrogen could become an economically viable solution for almost all of our energy and energy storage requirements.

Though India’s first Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Roadmap was announced in the year 2006, the country has lagged behind other nations like USA, Japan, South Korea and Europe in creating a large-scale demonstration hydrogen project. Recently India has come up with a white paper (prepared by FTI Consulting) on the Green Hydrogen Roadmap. Various stakeholders from the government of India, experts from the energy industry, and many other experts were involved in creation of this white paper. The paper discusses three possible pathways for the adoption of the technology and create a green hydrogen ecosystem for the nation.

1. First pathway provides a framework for taking proactive steps in creation of incentive policies that would encourage private sector to co-invest (with the government) in creation of green hydrogen infrastructure.

2. Second pathway provides a cautious wait and watch approach till 2030, before taking proactive steps.

3. Third pathway recommends the follower strategy to let the developed countries build the hydrogen ecosystem first and catch up with them once the global system is ready.

There was a strong support for the first pathway across the stakeholders’ group with some concerns of lack of adequate funding. Thus, to make India a green Hydrogen Economy according to the 1st pathway, eight recommendation under 3 broad categories were made: – (FTI Consulting)

Five Policy Led Hydrogen Interventions

1. Creation of National Hydrogen Policy and Roadmap by 2021, co-created by government and industry.

2. Creation of H2India Hydrogen Taskforce and Workgroups to meet roadmap milestones and implementation paths.

3. Green Hydrogen Investment Fund of USD 100 million to be deployed in next 5 years till 2025; larger USD 500 million Hydrogen Fund to be raised for 2025-2030.

4. National aspiration for 4 % hydrogen share in national energy mix by the year 2030.

5. Inter-Ministerial Green Hydrogen government cell to ensure adherence to the global harmonized standards.

National Green Hydrogen Demonstration Projects

6. Hydrogen production coupled with use cases, H20 hydrogen blending in natural gas exploratory natural gas and coal gasified grey hydrogen projects.

7. Identify at least ten potential H2India national Hydrogen projects for large scale demonstration projects:

· Long-haul heavy duty H2Bharat trucking project – 10,000 H2 truck fleet and infrastructure on DMIC (Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor).

· Four H2Bharat ports (Nhava Sheva/Mundra/Chennai/Paradip) and logistics clusters linked to IndiaH2 Trucking project.

· Four H2India Industrial projects, in high priority sectors (steel/fertilizers), including brown coal gasification H2 project in steel/mining cluster

· Municipal level H2Maharashtra/H2Gujarat Urban Bio-Gas project with urban (solid waste), dairy

Green Hydrogen Public Private Partnerships, Industry Consortia

8. Fiscal Incentives for large scale national H2 Projects, partnerships and industry consortiums.

The paper recommends an approach similar to European Union in which they have coupled the hydrogen demonstration projects with renewable energy corridors. Implementation of the first pathway approach could lead to the creation of favorable environment for the stronger Green Hydrogen Ecosystem by the year 2030. This in turn will help India curb its carbon emission and help reduce global emissions by the year 2040. This also unleashes opportunity worth of billions of dollars for the private sector players.