From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Green hydrogen and its applications
Mains level : National Green Hydrogen mission
- As countries work on reducing their dependence on fossil fuels due to climate change considerations, a race is currently on to secure the energy sources of the future. Green hydrogen, produced through a clean process, is rightly seen as the most dependable source of energy of the future.
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Highlights: India’s efforts towards clean energy transition and the challenges
- Seasonality challenge for solar and Wind energy: Solar and wind energy have almost been tamed, but their intermittency and seasonality continue to be a challenge.
- High cost of nuclear energy: The Nuclear energy has been in use for several decades now, but its cost remains a constraint.
- Electric vehicles are still not convenient: Even though electric vehicles are fast gaining in popularity, the convenience of petrol or diesel is still missing.
- The government approval to the National Green Hydrogen Mission: recently government approved National green hydrogen Mission a keenly-awaited decision. The nearly Rs 20,000 crore mission is aimed at building domestic capabilities in developing technologies to produce hydrogen, an element that is readily available in nature but never alone, because of which it requires segregation.
What is Green Hydrogen?
- Clean and no harmful gas emission: The Green hydrogen is the one produced with no harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
- Produced by electrolysis of water: It is made by using clean electricity from surplus renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind power, to electrolyse water. Electrolysers use an electrochemical reaction to split water into its components of hydrogen and oxygen, emitting zero-carbon dioxide in the process.
- Energy intensive process: It is an energy-intensive process for splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using renewable power to achieve this.
Analysis: Green Hydrogen most dependable source of energy of the future
- Energy of the future: The Green hydrogen, produced through a clean process, is rightly seen as the most dependable source of energy of the future.
- Fuel for vehicles or to generate electricity: It can be used to generate electricity or as fuel in industries or vehicles.
- Not yet cost effective: Even though the technology to produce hydrogen in an emission-free manner is not yet mature or cost-effective, it features prominently in several countries’ strategies to achieve net-zero emission status by the middle of this century.
- Production is expensive: The green hydrogen currently makes up a small percentage of the overall hydrogen, because production is expensive. The current cost of green hydrogen in India is ₹300 to ₹400 per kg.
Late entry in Solar energy: a lesson to be remembered
- Green hydrogen is still in a nascent stage: Efforts to harness the energy of hydrogen in a clean and affordable manner have been stepped up significantly in the last few years. In many ways, green hydrogen is where solar energy was 10-12 years ago.
- Technology was available but not economical: The technology to harness the energy was available, but wasn’t economical. Then, dramatically, in a period of less than five years, a combination of technology improvement and massive demand in countries like China saw the prices of solar photovoltaic cells come down by 80-90 per cent, suddenly making solar energy an extremely attractive proposition.
- India’s entry in solar revolution was a little late: India joined the solar revolution a little late, after the prices had come down. And while India is now one of the biggest players in solar energy, most of the raw materials and components are imported.
- The big concern: There are already concerns that inability to develop domestic capabilities in solar manufacturing will only result in India moving from one kind of dependency oil imports to another.
National hydrogen mission: India’s efforts in right direction
- Early entry in Hydrogen energy: With the hydrogen mission, India is making a relatively early entry into a still nascent technology domain.
- Emphasis on developing domestic manufacturing capabilities: It is reassuring to see that the bulk of the financial allocation for the mission is geared towards developing domestic manufacturing of electrolysers, the equipment in which hydrogen is separated from water molecules, and the production of hydrogen.
- Allocation of funds for R&D, a move in right direction: A substantial part of the money has been earmarked for R&D activities with the aim of developing globally competitive technologies.
- With the much-needed hydrogen mission, India is making a relatively early entry into a still nascent technology domain. It is important not to miss the bus like the solar revolution this time. For now, the government seems to be moving in the right direction.