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Green Hydrogen- India’s Sunrise Sector

“The thing that is going to help India with a quantum leap in terms of climate is the field of green hydrogen1,” – Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Hydrogen has been an upcoming sector across the globe with huge industrial applications. Increasing number of companies across the globe are now exploring the green hydrogen. Green hydrogen has been labelled as one of the cleanest forms of energy in the world. It is being looked at as the ultimate solution to achieve net zero emissions. Through the process of electrolysis, all that is needed to produce hydrogen is water, a big electrolyser and electricity. The electric current then splits the water into its two components- hydrogen and oxygen. This means no release of greenhouse emissions since oxygen is the only by product of this process. Additionally, if the electricity used comes from renewable sources, it makes the process completely emission free.

In line with India’s ambitious green commitments, Prime Minister Narendra Modi aims to transform India into an energy independent nation by 2047 where green hydrogen will play an active role as an alternate fuel to petroleum/ fossil-based products.

To keep pace with global companies, National Hydrogen Mission was announced in Budget Speech of FY 2021-22 to produce the hydrogen from green energy sources. The scheme was announced putting Green Hydrogen at the heart of India’s energy security and climate change.

According to a report by TERI, in 2020, India’s hydrogen demand stood at 6 million Tons (MT) per year.2 However, studies have shown a tremendous opportunity for growth in this area. It is estimated that by 2030, the hydrogen costs will be down by 50 per cent.3 The demand for hydrogen is expected to see a 5-fold jump to 28 MT by 2050 where 80 per cent of the demand is expected to be green in nature.4 Many Indian companies have already started announcing their plans to dip their toes in the green energy sub-sector.

Recently, India’s largest oil and gas sector company, Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) has announced its plans to go green. The company has recently announced its plans to become a net zero carbon firm by 2035. RIL has plans to invest in INR 600 billion to build a 5000-acre green energy complex in Jamnagar, Gujarat.5 The complex will house an electrolyser plant to produce green hydrogen.

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GAIL (India), a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) has floated a recent tender to procure an electrolyser. They are looking at locations to finalise a 10 MW plant, one of the biggest plants announced so far.6 GAIL has taken a step forward and has already started mixing hydrogen in natural gas on a trial basis in one of the cities. Similarly, NTPC has also shown interest to produce green hydrogen on a commercial scale. They have expressed their plans to do the same from its 4.75 GW park at the Rann of Kutch and have announced a 5 MW7 plant. Presently, the company is running a pilot in their Vindhyanchal unit. Further the company also has plans to set up green hydrogen fuelling station in Leh, Ladakh and will start with plying 5 hydrogen buses. They have invited Expression of Interests (EOIs) for 10 hydrogen fuel cell buses and cars.8

Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) is another PSU that has announced its plans to explore the green hydrogen opportunity. They recently announced their plans to setup a green hydrogen plant at its Mathura refinery in Uttar Pradesh with a capacity of around 160,000 barrels per day.9 Acting firmly on their target to convert at least 10 per cent of its hydrogen consumption at the refineries to green hydrogen, they plan to convert 10 percent of the usage in their Mathura location to green sources by the year 2024.10 IOCL also has plans to setup a hydrogen manufacturing unit in Kochi, which is targeted to draw energy from the solar facility at the Kochi international airport. Additionally, IOCL floated a tender for 15 hydrogen PEM fuel cell electric buses.11

Larsen and Tourbo (L&T) is another Indian entity looking to venture into the green hydrogen sector. According to their latest report, they have set an aim to achieve net zero emissions by 2040 and plan to spend INR 10-15 Bn on its green initiatives.12 In addition to exploring the possibility of manufacturing electrolysers, they are setting up a green hydrogen plant at their Hazira complex, which is scheduled to be completed withing this financial year.

Both Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) are planning to use hydrogen for its refineries.13 Furthermore, Solar Energy Corporation Limited (SECI), is looking to invite bids to build green hydrogen plants using renewable energy sources.14 The corporation recently released a Notice Inviting Tenders (NIT) for setting up a Green Hydrogen based pilot project at SNM hospital in Leh, Ladakh.15

Establishing India as a global hub for green hydrogen generation, Ohmium International through its subsidiary in India has shipped its first ever unit of electrolyser to the United States. The electrolyser was manufactured in Ohmium’s Bengaluru facility which is India’s first green hydrogen electrolyser Gigafactory.16

India’s journey into the green hydrogen space has been path breaking. As of now, the industry faces high cost of production but owing to increased demand, technology upgradation and strong government support, the industry will soon establish economies of scale, driving down the cost. In line with India’s Make in India initiative and its net zero emission targets, the sector provides tremendous scope for growth and investments.

This is authored by Kanika Verma.

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