Climate change is speeding up and escalating quicker than expected with pollution levels at record highs. Present and future generations' health and well-being and their economic progress are in jeopardy. We urgently require adequate solutions to preserve a cleaner and greener environment.

As one of the cleaner fuels with zero carbon, hydrogen has provided a ray of hope in the fight against climate change. With the  right fuel cells, they can be employed in numerous energy applications. Green hydrogen is one of the cleaner fuels available for transportation and power generation. For regulators, investors, and consumers, reduction in cost in hydrogen production, storage, transmission, distribution, and utilisation has become a major global change. Today, hydrogen is seen as a carbon-free alternative for various uses including long-haul haulage, shipping, and the steel industry. Because hydrogen manufacturing is energy-intensive, non-greenhouse gas-producing sources such as wind and solar must be used to generate power. Large-scale usage of green hydrogen energy, a 100 per cent clean fuel, will cut greenhouse gas emissions while lessening the burden on fossil fuels.

Over the next decade, refineries are projected to switch to green hydrogen. Green ammonia will be cost-effective for fertiliser production by 2030. The path to a cleaner future must pass through higher investments in research and development, technology enhancements, and capacity building.

In the fight against climate change, India has emerged as a significant leader. It is now making noticeable measures to mitigate global warming as the world's third-largest emitter, and it remains committed to significantly decreasing its environmental impact in the future. The PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) functions as a catalyst in disseminating awareness and technological advances about pollution prevention and management, including climate mitigation. It has also been working on advanced multi-stakeholder initiatives and industrial transformation to enhance sustainability, robustness, and efficiency in many socio-economic sectors. In the context of green hydrogen, India is in a distinctive position to create hydrogen for its purposes and emerge as a worldwide export hub owing to its wide accessibility of inexpensive renewable energy. 

The National Hydrogen Energy Mission, announced in the union budget of India for 2021-22, demonstrates India's ability to build capacity to become the world's cheapest hydrogen producer by 2050. This will aid in the development of a set of equitable, positive, and valuable future solutions.

There has been significant impetus given to the production and consumption of green hydrogen. This has extensively induced several Indian companies to invest in innovations in green hydrogen plans:

  1. Reliance Industries announced it would commit $ 75 billion to green energy, including an undisclosed amount toward green hydrogen projects. 
  2. Hyderabad-based Greenko group and Belgium-based John Cockerill to build a two-gigawatt hydrogen electrolyser gigafactory in India, the largest outside China.
  3. The state-owned Indian Oil Corporation teamed up with two private companies to launch a joint venture to develop green hydrogen. There are also plans to manufacture and sell electrolysers used to produce green hydrogen.
  4. In November 2021, the world's largest solar power developer Adani Group announced it would invest $ 70 billion by 2030 into renewable energy infrastructure, including green hydrogen. 
  5. Reliance Industries and Adani Group have both pledged to make the world's cheapest green hydrogen at $ 1 per kilogram, or about a quarter of a gallon — that's down from the current cost of $ 5-6. 

Green hydrogen needs innovation and technological advancements to replace fossil fuels. It will become commercially viable only when it becomes cheaper. For the country, it is essential to focus primarily on initiating small and medium scale pilot projects before pivoting to large scale production plants. This would also be efficient in procuring investments in this regard. If implemented efficiently, the push would be instrumental in making the country less vulnerable to oil and natural gas price shocks. 

Furthermore, hydrogen's promise as a clean fuel, energy storage medium, and enabler of renewable energy has piqued the interest of governments, energy sector actors, environmental civil rights groups, and users alike. India is one of the leading countries for wind and solar power output, making more inexpensive hydrogen manufacturing from renewable sources. India has a competitive advantage because of its enormous natural resources and suitable meteorological and geographical circumstances. With focussed efforts in this sector, the country can position itself as a top green hydrogen producer and consumer, aligning with its commitments and goals to fully utilise the renewable energy sources in the country and achieve a carbon-neutral economy. 

This has been co-authored by Bhakti Jain and Srijata Deb.

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