From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Pink hydrogen
Mains level : Paper 3- Green hydrogen
The forthcoming 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow from November 1-12, 2021 is to re-examine the coordinated action plans to mitigate greenhouse gases and climate adaptation measures.
How Green hydrogen as a fuel can be a game changer?
- Hydrogen is the most abundant element on the planet, but rarely in its pure form which is how we need it.
- High energy density: It has an energy density almost three times that of diesel.
- ‘Green hydrogen’, the emerging novel concept, is a zero-carbon fuel made by electrolysis using renewable power from wind and solar to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
- Best solution to remain under 1.5° C: The International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts the additional power demand to be to the tune of 25%-30% by the year 2040.
- Thus, power generation by ‘net-zero’ emission will be the best solution to achieve the target of expert guidelines on global warming to remain under 1.5° C.
- Untapped potential: Presently, less than 0.1% or say ~75 million tons/year of hydrogen capable of generating ~284GW of power, is produced.
Challenges: Production and storage cost
- The challenge is to compress or liquefy the LH2 (liquid hydrogen); it needs to be kept at a stable minus 253° C.
- This leads to its ‘prior to use exorbitant cost’.
- The ‘production cost’ of ‘Green hydrogen’ has been considered to be a prime obstacle.
- The production cost of this ‘green source of energy’ is expected to be around $1.5 per kilogram (for nations having perpetual sunshine and vast unused land), by the year 2030; by adopting various conservative measures.
Experiments in India
- The Indian Railways have announced the country’s first experiment of a hydrogen-fuel cell technology-based train by retrofitting an existing diesel engine; this will run under Northern Railway on the 89 km stretch between Sonepat and Jind.
- The project will not only ensure diesel savings to the tune of several lakhs annually but will also prevent the emission of 0.72 kilo tons of particulate matter and 11.12-kilo tons of carbon per annum.
Way forward for India
- India is the world’s fourth-largest energy-consuming country (behind China, the United States and the European Union), according to the IEA’s forecast, and will overtake the European Union to become the world’s third energy consumer by the year 2030.
- It is high time to catch up with the rest of the world by going in for clean energy, decarbonising the economy and adopting ‘Green hydrogen’ as an environment-friendly and safe fuel for the next generations.
In order to achieve the goal of an alternative source of energy, adopting a multi-faceted practical approach to utilise ‘Green hydrogen’ offers a ray of hope.