From firms run by billionaires Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani to state-owned oil refiner IndianOil and electricity producer NTPC, Indian firms have announced ambitious plans to embrace hydrogen as fuel as the nation transitions towards carbon-free fuel.
Hydrogen is the latest buzz for meeting the world’s energy needs. Being the cleanest form of energy, it can be produced from a variety of resources, such as
gas, biomass, and renewable power like solar and wind. It can be used in cars, in houses, for portable power and in many more applications.
No doubt, it is gaining currency in India like other places in the world.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday announced a National Hydrogen Mission.
“Green Hydrogen is the future of the world. Today, I announce the setting up of the National Hydrogen Mission with the aim of becoming the new global hub of Green Hydrogen, and also its largest exporter,” he said in his Independence Day address.
The Mission was first announced in this year’s Union Budget in February and companies have since then queued up to announce projects. But neither that announcement nor Modi’s speech on Sunday defined production or capacity targets.
Besides the transport sector, hydrogen can find its use in a range of sectors such as chemicals, iron and steel, heating and power.
Ambani, chairman of
Ltd, recently announced hydrogen plans as part of the biggest private refiner’s move to become a net carbon-zero firm by 2035.
“While Reliance will remain a user of crude oil and natural gas, we are committed to embracing new technologies to convert our CO into useful products and chemicals,” he had told shareholders on June 24.
“Reliance also has proprietary technology to convert transportation fuels to valuable petrochemical and material building blocks. And at the same time, we will replace transportation fuels with clean electricity and hydrogen,” Ambani had said.
In March, Adani Group had announced a partnership with Maire Tecnimont to develop green hydrogen projects in India.
(IOC), which controls about a third of India’s 250 million tonnes of oil refining capacity, plans to build a green hydrogen plant at its Mathura refinery in Uttar Pradesh.
“IndianOil has a wind power project in Rajasthan. We intend to wheel that power to our Mathura refinery to produce absolutely green hydrogen through electrolysis,” IOC Chairman Shrikant
Vaidya said last month.
Green hydrogen, derived from water electrolysis using renewable energy such as solar or wind, will replace carbon-emitting fuels used in the refinery to process crude oil into value-added products, such as petrol and diesel.
NTPC, the nation’s largest electricity generator, has also announced plans to set up India’s first green hydrogen fuelling station in Leh, Ladakh.
NTPC is looking to set up a pilot project for blending hydrogen with national gas for use in city gas distribution.
In a tweet, ACME Group said it “has taken the 1st step to set up world’s first green hydrogen and ammonia plant in Rajasthan.”
“Clean electricity is the future! India stands 5th globally in installed solar capacity. Renewable sources contribute 1/4th of the capacity here,” it said.
Hydrogen is produced predominantly through Steam Methane Reforming, or SMR, which utilises fossils fuels, such as natural gas or coal, and through Proton Exchange Membrane Electrolysis, which splits water into hydrogen and oxygen using a current of electricity.
Currently, all hydrogen consumed in India comes from fossil fuels. By 2050, three-fourth of all hydrogen is projected to be green — produced by renewable electricity and electrolysis.
IOC is also working on technology to develop hydrogen-spiked compressed natural gas, or H-CNG. This H-CNG will be used to run buses.
However, hydrogen production currently is expensive when compared with alternatives. Also supply and distribution is a challenge.
Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who as the minister for petroleum and natural gas had taken initiatives to push for building hydrogen infrastructure, on Sunday said he welcomed the announcement for a National Hydrogen Mission.
“A clear cut roadmap for energy transition involving a gas-based economy, network of CNG & PNG across the country, 20% ethanol blending will help realise the goal of becoming energy independent when India turns 100,” Pradhan, who is now the HRD Minister, tweeted.
The current oil minister, Hardeep Singh Puri, said, “On this historic occasion PM Modi Ji has announced the National Hydrogen Mission which aims to make India a green hydrogen production & export hub & will give rise to green jobs. He shared his vision to make India energy independent before completing 100 years of independence.”
At present, oil refineries are the largest producer of hydrogen, which is used in various processes of refining crude oil.
The government plans to make it mandatory for refineries and fertiliser plants to use some green hydrogen.
Hydrogen also helps India meets its climate commitment.
In the past six years, India has increased its renewable power portfolio from 32 gigawatts to almost 100 GW and is on track to achieve the target of 450 GW of renewable energy generating capacity by 2030.