From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Hydrogen
Mains level : National Hydrogen Mission
During his I-Day speech, the PM has announced a National Hydrogen Mission and said India will become the world’s largest exporter of green hydrogen in the years to come.
National Hydrogen Mission
- The PM’s announcement takes forward the proposal, made in the 2021 Budget, for the launch of NHM that would enable the generation of hydrogen “from green power sources”.
- The added advantage of hydrogen is that, apart from transportation, it can be a “decarbonizing agent” for industries like chemicals, iron, steel, fertilizer and refining, transport, heat and power.
- While the details of the NHM are yet to emerge, India has taken several exploratory steps.
- India has been working on a pilot project on Blue Hydrogen, Hydrogen CNG (H-CNG), and Green Hydrogen.
- Several programs are focusing to blend hydrogen with compressed natural gas for use as a transportation fuel as well as an industrial input to refineries.
Hydrogen as a fuel
- Hydrogen is the fuel of stars and packs awesome energy. It is also the most abundant element in the universe.
- But on Earth, it is found in complex molecules such as water or hydrocarbons.
- Hydrogen is not a source of energy, like fossil fuels or renewable sources like sunlight and air, but an energy carrier, which means it has to be produced, or extracted, and stored before it can be used.
- But no matter how it is used, the by-product the burning of hydrogen produces is water.
How is Hydrogen produced?
- There are several ways of extracting hydrogen and, depending on the method, the hydrogen produced is classified as ‘grey’, ‘blue’, or ‘green’ hydrogen.
- According to WEC, as of 2019, 96 percent of hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels via carbon-intensive processes.
- Hydrogen thus obtained is called ‘grey’ hydrogen as the process, though not as expensive as the other methods, releases a lot of carbon dioxide.
What Is Grey, Blue, Green Of Hydrogen?
- ‘Grey’ hydrogen becomes ‘blue’ hydrogen when the CO2 given out during its production is locked up through carbon capture and storage (CCS) processes.
- But while the CO2 output is lowered, this process is quite expensive.
- ‘Grey’ and ‘blue’ hydrogen, thus, are both produced by the same processes, the only difference for ‘blue’ hydrogen being that the CO2 produced is sequestered.
- But it is ‘green’ hydrogen that governments are aiming at. This is any hydrogen that is produced from clean energy sources like renewables.
- ‘Green’ hydrogen is released via the electrolysis of energy from renewable sources. This process, though it gives rise to no CO2 emissions, is expensive and not commercially viable yet.
- Lack of infrastructure: India does not have enough storage capacity for the current state of domestic consumption.
- Safety concerns: Hydrogen is highly inflammable.
- Developing technologies to produce ‘green’ hydrogen is cost-intensive.
- However, falling renewable energy and fuel cell prices and stringent climate change requirements have provided an impetus for investments in this area.
- In India, the IITs, IISc, Benaras Hindu University, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research laboratories etc. are exploring different aspects of hydrogen production.