Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Green Horizon: India's journey to leadership in the Hydrogen Revolution

India has enormous potential in its green hydrogen journey but also faces hurdles. This opinion highlights legislative measures, industry contributions, and India's goal for a cleaner and greener future amid technological developments and proactive government support. India is poised to become a global leader in sustainable energy

Published: Jan 8, 2024 05:32:45 PM IST
Updated: Jan 8, 2024 05:59:12 PM IST

Green Horizon: India's journey to leadership in the Hydrogen Revolution(Representative image only)The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) estimates that hydrogen could cover up to 12% of global energy use by 2050, helping to avoid six gigatonnes of CO2 emissions annually.Image: Shutterstock

India is on the brink of an energy transformation, with green hydrogen poised to play a pivotal role in its sustainable future. Green hydrogen, produced by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using renewable energy sources like solar and wind, offers a clean, carbon-neutral alternative to conventional fossil fuels. The country's vast renewable energy resources, including an estimated solar potential of around 750 GW and a wind potential of approximately 302 GW, provide a strong foundation for this emerging sector. Rajasthan and Gujarat, with their vast solar potential, are prime locations for building green hydrogen production facilities. Rajasthan's Thar Desert is particularly suitable for large-scale solar installations.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) estimates that hydrogen could cover up to 12% of global energy use by 2050, helping to avoid six gigatonnes of CO2 emissions annually. Thus, this transition aligns with global climate goals and aligns with global climate goals and positions India at the forefront of the green energy revolution.

Diverse Applications of Hydrogen: A Catalyst for Sustainable Solutions

Applications for hydrogen fuel cells can be found in several industries. They are a flexible and environmentally beneficial energy source. Hydrogen-powered trains, buses, and certain passenger cars are becoming increasingly common in transportation. Demonstrating their dedication to greener options, cities like Delhi are leading the way in testing hydrogen-powered buses to reduce urban air pollution.
Businesses that require a lot of heat, like those that make steel and cement, consider green hydrogen a cleaner alternative to fossil fuels. Adopting green hydrogen could be a crucial step in reducing the environmental impact of fossil fuel consumption, as the global steel industry alone accounts for 7-9% of direct emissions from this source. Furthermore, there is a sizable potential market for using green hydrogen in the fertiliser production industry, which has historically relied on hydrogen.
The adaptability of hydrogen also extends to electricity production, where it can be burnt in gas turbines or used directly in fuel cells. This adaptability presents utilities looking to decarbonise their energy mix with transformative potential. The largest power provider in India, NTPC Limited, is one example of the increasing interest in sustainable energy options. It is actively investigating green hydrogen technologies for energy storage and grid balancing.
Moreover, the ability of hydrogen to be combined with natural gas is helping to lower carbon emissions from heating systems in homes and businesses. This integration shows how to handle environmental concerns in daily energy usage practically. Hydrogen finds wide-ranging uses in transportation, manufacturing, energy production, and heating systems. It highlights its potential to serve as a driving force behind sustainable solutions in pursuing a more environmentally friendly and cleaner future.

India's Ambitious Leap into Green Hydrogen: Unveiling the National Green Hydrogen Mission

Considering the vast potential of green hydrogen, the Government of India has taken a proactive stance with the National Green Hydrogen Mission. This mission, which has earmarked Rs 19,700 crore in the 2023 budget, underlines the government's commitment to reducing carbon emissions and dependence on fossil fuels.

The Indian government has set an emission limit of two kilograms of carbon dioxide for every kilogram of hydrogen produced to qualify as "green" hydrogen. This move brings clarity and standardisation to green hydrogen production in India.

The potential of the Indian market is also significant, considering that current global hydrogen consumption is estimated to be around 70 million tons per year, the majority of which is grey hydrogen from fossil fuels.
India aims to produce 5 million metric tons of green hydrogen annually by 2030, potentially saving more than $12 billion in fossil fuel imports and reducing 50 million metric tons of carbon emissions. The government has approved $2.3 billion to develop the green hydrogen sector to support this. This investment will help India add 125 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2030.

In comparison, China, the European Union and the United States are also actively investing in green hydrogen, with the global market expected to grow 20-fold to $80 billion by 2030. The strategy includes supporting the development of efficient hydrogen production technologies, such as advanced electrolysis, and supporting research into hydrogen storage and transport solutions. In addition, the government is promoting a favourable regulatory environment, offering incentives and potentially relaxing policies to attract investment and facilitate growth in the sector.

Overcoming Obstacles - Challenges and Industrial Momentum

The journey to a hydrogen-based economy is not without its challenges. The cost of green hydrogen production is currently estimated at $3-6/kg, primarily due to the high capital cost of electrolysers, which can constitute up to 40% of the total project cost. Additionally, storage and transportation, requiring high-pressure tanks or cryogenic temperatures, pose logistical and safety challenges because of their complexity. Efficient hydrogen storage technologies like metal hydrides and liquid organic hydrogen carriers are still in developmental stages and need substantial investment. Technological challenges, especially in the storage and transportation of hydrogen, add to the complexity.

However, there's a silver lining in the form of active participation from industry giants like Reliance Industries, Indian Oil, NTPC, Adani Enterprises, and others who have announced plans to set up a cumulative annual green hydrogen manufacturing capacity of 3.5 million metric tons. Their investments and involvement in developing green hydrogen projects are crucial in overcoming these obstacles, indicating a robust industrial momentum that can drive the sector towards maturity.

Also read: Green hydrogen can help India meet its net-zero ambitions. How long before a real impact is seen?

Paving the Way for Green Hydrogen: Strategic Policy Initiatives for India's Sustainable Future

The future of green hydrogen in India depends on a balanced approach that addresses technological and infrastructure challenges while leveraging policy support and industrial innovation or something similar. Creating an enabling ecosystem for research and development, paired with strategic government support and strong private sector participation, is essential, maybe. This approach should focus on developing efficient and cost-effective production methods, establishing a reliable storage and transportation network, and creating a comprehensive policy framework that supports growth and innovation in the green hydrogen sector, you know, all that good stuff.

With the help of green hydrogen, India can move towards a sustainable and energy-secure future. However, this will require a comprehensive policy framework considering infrastructure, technology, and regulatory constraints, you know, regulatory stuff. The following three key policy recommendations will boost India's green hydrogen industry:

First, we would need investment in Research and Development (R&D). To support technological progress in the production of green hydrogen, the government should provide significant funding for research and development projects, you know, lots of funding. Creating research facilities and collaborative platforms with academic institutions and commercial entities can accelerate the development of productive and economical manufacturing techniques and stuff like that. Offering subsidies for innovation and encouraging the business sector to participate in research and development initiatives can stimulate the development of new technology and make India a hub for cutting-edge green hydrogen solutions or something.

Second, infrastructure development for storage and transportation is urgently required. Developing a reliable network for transport and storage is essential for the widespread adoption of green hydrogen. The government's top priority should be infrastructure projects that increase the amount of storage space and improve the efficiency of green hydrogen transportation cause efficiency is essential. This means creating a network of specialised hydrogen pipelines and developing cutting-edge storage technologies. The smooth integration of green hydrogen into India's energy landscape will be facilitated by providing financial incentives and opportunities to partner with private sector companies to build storage and transportation infrastructure; believe me, it's crucial.

Third, a holistic policy framework and regulatory support are most needed. A broad policy framework is necessary for the green hydrogen industry to have a clear roadmap, duh! The government should try to establish industry standards. Specify requirements for green hydrogen emissions, cause harmful emissions, and simplify regulatory procedures. The sector will continue to flourish if an appropriate business environment is created through tax breaks, financial incentives, and deregulation for investment cause incentives are good. A framework for flexible and adaptive regulation is ensured by routine revision of laws to match market dynamics and technological improvements, thereby continuously stimulating innovation.
India's commitment to green hydrogen is a testament to its vision of a sustainable, energy-secure future. If the country takes this path, it has the potential to become a global leader in green hydrogen, inspire other nations, and make a significant contribution to global efforts to combat climate change, which is essential. The road ahead is challenging but promises a cleaner, greener, and more sustainable world. By implementing these measures, India can establish itself as a world leader in green hydrogen production, making a significant contribution to global efforts to mitigate climate change and promote economic development and energy security cause those things are suitable for everyone—the proactive and strategic strategy required to manage the potential and challenges of India's green hydrogen journey.

Anjal Prakash is a Clinical Associate Professor (Research) at Bharti Institute of Public Policy, Indian School of Business (ISB). He teaches sustainability at ISB and contributes to IPCC reports.
Ivy Chaudhuri is a PGP student at ISB and the Vice-President of the Energy and Sustainability Club at the School. Before joining ISB, she worked as a Product Manager for solar modules and Battery Energy Storage Systems at Vikram Solar and Enphase Energy.
Chirag Singla is currently a PGP student at ISB. Before joining ISB, he worked as an operations and maintenance engineer at Exxon and a senior analyst at McKinsey, where he supported multiple oil and gas players across Europe in their business transformation strategies. 

[This article has been reproduced with permission from the Indian School of Business, India]