From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Greem Hydrogen
Mains level : Read the attached story
The govt is planning a $2 billion incentive program for the green hydrogen industry, in a bid to cut emissions and become a major export player in the field.
What is Green Hydrogen?
- Green hydrogen is hydrogen gas produced through the electrolysis of water.
- It is an energy-intensive process for splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen— using renewable power to achieve this.
- The current cost of green hydrogen in India is ₹300 to ₹400 per kg.
Hydrogen Energy: A Backgrounder
- Hydrogen is an important source of energy since it has zero carbon content and is a non-polluting source of energy in contrast to hydrocarbons that have net carbon content in the range of 75–85 per cent.
- Hydrogen energy is expected to reduce carbon emissions that are set to jump by 1.5 billion tons in 2021.
- It has the highest energy content by weight and lowest energy content by volume.
- As per International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Hydrogen shall make up 6 per cent of total energy consumption by 2050.
- Hydrogen energy is currently at a nascent stage of development, but has considerable potential for aiding the process of energy transition from hydrocarbons to renewable.
- Better properties: At standard temperature and pressure, hydrogen is a nontoxic, nonmetallic, odourless, tasteless, colourless, and highly combustible diatomic gas.
- Clean fuel: Hydrogen fuel is a zero-emission fuel when burned with oxygen. It can be used in fuel cells or internal combustion engines. It is also used as a fuel for spacecraft propulsion.
- Ample sources: Hydrogen can be sourced from natural gas, nuclear power, biomass, and renewable power like solar and wind.
- Phasing out carbon: India remains committed to environmental and climate causes with a massive thrust on deploying renewable energy and energy efficiency measures.
- Diversification of our energy basket: This would be the key lever enabling this transition. That’s why the emergence of hydrogen at the centre stage is a welcome development.
How Hydrogen can be produced?
Commercially viable Hydrogen can be produced from –
- Hydrocarbons including natural gas, oil and coal through processes like steam methane reforming, partial oxidation and coal gasification
- Renewables like water, sunlight and wind through electrolysis and photolysis and other thermo-chemical processes.
How is Green Hydrogen produced?
- For source material, green hydrogen today is typically generated from water through a process known as electrolysis, which uses an electric current to split water into its component molecules of hydrogen and oxygen.
- This is done using a device called an electrolyzer, which utilizes a cathode and an anode (positively and negatively charged electrodes).
- This process produces only oxygen – or steam – as a byproduct.
- As for energy supply, to qualify as “green hydrogen,” the source of electricity used for electrolysis must derive from renewable power, such as wind or solar energy.
- Currently the production of green hydrogen is two or three times more expensive than blue hydrogen.
How can green hydrogen be used?
Hydrogen can be used in broadly two ways. It can be burnt to produce heat or fed into a fuel cell to make electricity.
- Fuel-cell Mobility: Hydrogen electric cars and trucks
- Container ships powered by liquid ammonia made from hydrogen
- “Green steel” refineries burning hydrogen as a heat source rather than coal
- Hydrogen-powered electricity turbines that can generate electricity at times of peak demand to help firm the electricity grid
Challenges in producing Green Hydrogen
India’s transition towards a green hydrogen economy (GHE) can only happen once certain key issues are addressed.
- Supply-Chain Issues: GHE hinges upon the creation of a supply chain, starting from the manufacture of electrolysers to the production of green hydrogen, using electricity from a renewable energy source.
- Technology: Green hydrogen needs electrolysers to be built on a scale larger than we’ve yet seen.
- Storage: Either very high pressures or very high temperatures are required, both with their own technical difficulties.
- Explosion Hazard: It is hazardous because of its low ignition energy and high combustion energy.
- Risk to use: Automotive fuels are highly inflammable, but a vehicle laden with hydrogen is likely to be more vulnerable in case of a major accident.
- High Cost of Production: To become competitive, the price per kilogram of green hydrogen has to reduce to a benchmark of $2/kg. At these prices, green hydrogen can compete with natural gas.
- Energy intensivity: Creating green hydrogen needs a huge amount of electricity, which means an enormous increase in the amount of wind and solar power to meet global targets.
- Lack of proper infrastructure, only 500 Hydrogen stations exist globally. Only countable manufacturers are involved as market players in this technology.
- Others: Low user acceptance and social awareness. Developing after-sales service for hydrogen technology.
Policy and Economic Challenges
- Economic sustainability: One of the biggest challenges faced by the industry for using hydrogen commercially is the economic sustainability of extracting green or blue hydrogen.
- Technological challenges: The technology used in production and use of hydrogen like Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and hydrogen fuel cell technology are at nascent stage.
- Cost Factor: These technologies are expensive which in turn increases the cost of production of hydrogen and will require a lot of investment which in turn add fiscal pressure on government.
- Higher Maintenance costs: Maintenance costs for fuel cells post-completion of a plant can be costly.
- Need for legal and administrative adherence: Certification mechanisms, recommendations, and regulations for different components of the system.
- Hydrogen energy is at a nascent stage of development but has significant potential for realizing the energy transition in India.
- The new policy is a futuristic vision that can help the country not only cut down its carbon emissions but also diversify its energy basket and reduce external reliance.
- India’s transition can be a testament to the world on the achievement of energy security, without compromising the goal of sustainable development.
- The GoI must strongly pursue the objective of creating a GHE to make India a global manufacturing hub and place itself at the top of the green hydrogen export market.
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