Green hydrogen energy has gained popularity all over the world, particularly now that it is experiencing its worst energy crisis and the threat of climate change is becoming a reality. India too has joined the global race to develop a green hydrogen economy to boost its dependence on renewable energy.
Although hydrogen is abundantly available in nature, it exists in compound form with other elements and cannot be harnessed directly. Hence, to be used as renewable energy, one of the means of producing hydrogen is by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen through electrolysis. When the electricity used in the process of electrolysis is derived from a renewable energy source, the resultant hydrogen that is produced is termed as "Green Hydrogen". Green Hydrogen is one of the cleanest sources of energy with close to zero greenhouse gas emissions. This energy can be used in fuel cells for cars or in energy-guzzling industries like fertilizers and steel manufacturing.
The Prime Minister of India on the 75th Independence Day launched the National Hydrogen Mission ("Mission") to support the government in achieving its climate goals and transforming India into a Green Hydrogen hub by meeting its target of producing 5 million tonnes of Green Hydrogen per annum by 2030 and encouraging associated developments in the renewable energy space.
Recently, on January 4, 2023, the Union Cabinet approved this Mission with an initial outlay of INR 19,744 crores. The Mission aims to offer numerous advantages such as the development of Green Hydrogen and its derivatives as exportable products, de-carbonisation of industrial, mobility, and energy sectors, reduction of reliance on imported fossil fuels and feedstock, development and advancement in domestic manufacturing infrastructure and technologies, and creation of employment opportunities.
The Mission estimates that India's potential to produce Green Hydrogen will accelerate to at least 5 million metric tonnes annually, adding another 125 GW (gigawatt) of renewable energy production capacity in the process.
Goals of the Mission
The objective of the Mission is to amass foreign and domestic investments of more than INR 8 lakh crore and generate approximately 6 lakh new employment opportunities by 2030. As a result, it is anticipated that the annual greenhouse gas emissions will drop by 50 million metric tonnes and that fossil fuel imports will reduce by INR 1 lakh crore.
The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy will be responsible for overseeing the coordination and implementation of the Mission. The Mission states that:
- Two distinct financial incentive mechanisms will be provided under the Strategic Interventions for Green Hydrogen Transition (SIGHT) Programme to encourage the domestic production of electrolysers and Green Hydrogen.
- As part of the Mission, regions that can sustain large-scale hydrogen production or usage will be identified and developed as Green Hydrogen hubs. The Mission also seeks to help hydrogen pilot projects in creating end markets and distribution networks.
- An enabling policy framework will be devised to facilitate the development of the Green Hydrogen industry. Additionally, robust standards and regulatory frameworks will also be implemented.
- Integrated skill development programmes will be launched in addition to establishing a public-private partnership framework for research and development. These research and development initiatives will be purpose-driven, time-bound, and adequately scaled up to produce innovations that are competitive on a global scale.
As India strives to increase its reliance on renewable sources of energy rather than conventional sources such as natural gas, oil, coal, or nuclear energy, the Indian government's approval of the Mission is a much-awaited decision.
Many Indian companies including Reliance, Adani, Larsen & Toubro, Greenko, Indian Oil, National Thermal Power Corporation, and GAIL India have been eager to diversify into the Green Hydrogen market and have already begun taking steps in that direction. This Mission would surely serve as a key avenue to aid them in realising their objectives.
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