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India’s hydrogen fuel journey – from 2006 to 2021 – where are we now?

Mini

Hydrogen can be the fuel of the future as it has no emissions and is essentially unlimited.

India’s hydrogen fuel journey – from 2006 to 2021 – where are we now?
Hydrogen has often been touted as a fuel of the future. Hydrogen has the potential to create limitless, emission-free, efficient energy. It can be used in many of the same devices that use carbon-based fuel like internal combustion engines, and it can even power Hydrogen fuel cells for highly efficient and clean electric use cases.
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiling the National Hydrogen Mission, the lightest discrete element in the universe has now become much important to India’s growing power demands.
Hydrogen is not only going to be essential for mitigating emissions from carbon-based fuel consumption in India, but the fuel will also be critical to reducing India’s energy dependency on other nations.
“This will not only help India to make new progress in the field of energy self-reliance but will also become a new inspiration for clean energy transition all over the world. New opportunities from green growth to the green job are opening up today for our start-ups and youth,” said PM Modi on August 15.
The importance of Hydrogen fuel in India was highlighted as far back as 2006. The National Hydrogen Energy Road Map (NHERM) was a program initiated by the National Hydrogen Energy Board (NHEB). The program was aimed at improving the technological capacity in India for using Hydrogen in production, storage, transportation and delivery, applications, safety, codes and standards and capacity building.
But current levels of demand and production of Hydrogen are still quite low in India. According to a report by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), Hydrogen demand in India was mostly specific to ammonia production and for special refineries that needed hydrogen gas. A total demand of 6 million ton per year was noted by TERI in 2020. But most of the production of Hydrogen in India was through steam methane reforming of natural gas, which results in carbon emissions as a byproduct essentially negating the environmental impact of using this kind of Hydrogen, also called Grey Hydrogen.
The study, “The Potential Role of Hydrogen in India,” also found that there was a tremendous opportunity for the growth of Hydrogen in India. It was estimated that by 2030, Hydrogen costs will be down by 50 percent and by 2050 Hydrogen would see a 5-fold jump in demand.
Additional government support to bolster this upcoming sunrise sector may see India become a net exporter of energy and fuel in the future, especially as a manufacturing and exporting hub of Hydrogen.
India’s largest company and its richest billionaire, Reliance Industries Limited and its CEO Mukesh Ambani, are also bullish about Hydrogen. Ambani’s recently announced Green Energy Giga Complex will have an electrolyser factory for green hydrogen production, and a fuel cell factory. Ambani hopes that India can bring down Hydrogen costs massively in the future. RIL hopes to become a net-zero emissions company by 2035, and a Rs. 75,000 crore investment in green energy is a large part of the plan.
“Green Hydrogen is the best and cleanest source of energy, which can play a fundamental role in the world’s decarbonisation plans. Efforts are on globally to make Green Hydrogen the most affordable fuel option by bringing down its cost to initially under USD 2 per kg. Let me assure you all that Reliance will aggressively pursue this target and achieve it well before the turn of this decade. And India has always set and achieved even more audacious goals. Am sure that India can set an even more aggressive target of achieving under USD 1 per kg within a decade. This will make India the first country globally to achieve $1 per 1 kilogram in 1 decade – the 1-1-1 target for Green Hydrogen," he said.