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Green Hydrogen Fuel

Context: Gujarat shall become India’s green hydrogen manufacturing hub and will retain its dominance over the industrial sector.

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  • Gujarat has signed memorandums of understanding with big corporates, including Reliance, Adani which have pledged huge investments in green energy projects and have been allotted land for the same.
  • Gujarat aims to become a hub for green hydrogen by creating a production capacity of 8 metric tonnes per annum (MTPA) by 2035.
  • Gujarat will have investments of ₹8-10 lakh crore and it will generate lakhs of new employment opportunities.
  • Gujarat is also framing a new policy for green hydrogen manufacturing, which will be given the status of a priority sector.

What is Green Hydrogen?

  • Hydrogen & Its Uses:  Hydrogen is the lightest element found in nature.
    • Water, fossil fuels, or biomass can all be used to produce hydrogen, which can then be separated and used as a fuel or source of energy.
    • It is more environment-friendly as it does not produce carbon-dioxide (produced by combustion of fossil fuels) and thus does not contribute to climate change.
  • Types of Hydrogen:
    • Grey Hydrogen is traditionally produced from methane (CH4), split with steam into carbon-dioxide (CO2, Green House Gas) and hydrogen.
      • Grey hydrogen is increasingly being produced from coal, with significantly higher CO2 emissions per unit of hydrogen produced.
      • It has no energy transition value.
    •  Blue Hydrogen follows the same process as grey. However, the CO2 produced is captured and stored for long term through suitable technology.
      • It is not possible to capture 100% of the CO2 produced and not all means of storing it are equally effective in the long term.
    • Turquoise Hydrogen is made using a process called methane pyrolysis to produce hydrogen and solid carbon. In the future, turquoise hydrogen may be valued as a low-emission hydrogen.
    • Green Hydrogen is defined as hydrogen produced by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using renewable electricity.
  • Benefits of Green Hydrogen:
    •  Net Zero Transition: The use of hydrogen in combustion has zero GHG emissions. Since, renewable energy is used in producing the Green Hydrogen, the entire chain (production to consumption) has very low GHG emissions (in contrast to Grey Hydrogen). Thus, Green Hydrogen is vital to Net Zero transition.
      • It can be utilized to decarbonize the heavy industry, long haul freight, shipping, and aviation sectors.
    •   Energy Storage Solution: Hydrogen is emerging as one of the leading options for storing energy from renewables.
      • Hydrogen-based fuels can potentially transport energy from renewables over long distances; from regions with abundant energy resources, to energy-consumption areas.
    •  Versatility: Green Hydrogen can be transformed into electricity or synthetic gas and used for commercial, industrial or mobility purposes.
    •  Availability of Water: Green Hydrogen can be produced from water which has abundant availability.

India and Green Hydrogen

  • Achieve Net Zero Emissions:  India is the third-largest emitter of carbon dioxide (CO2) globally. Adoption of Green Hydrogen will facilitate India’s goal of lowering its carbon footprint and attaining net zero emissions by 2070.
  • Decarbonization: Carbon-free hydrogen will enable substantial decarbonization in industries that produce iron ore and steel, fertilizers, methanol, refining and emit significant volumes of carbon dioxide (CO2).
  • Self Sufficiency:  India’s energy landscape is at a crucial turning point, and green hydrogen will have an essential role in making the country self-sufficient by 2047 and energy independent.
  • Less Imports:  Presently, India spends more than US$ 160 billion in foreign exchange every year for energy imports. A comprehensive action plan for establishing a Green Hydrogen economy can make India a hub for the production and export of green hydrogen.

Which Sectors in India Can Benefit from Green Hydrogen?

  • Green Steel: In the coming years, the green hydrogen-based steel will be cost-competitive due to the declining costs of renewable energy and electrolysers. Market restrictions on carbon-intensive steel and the provision of carbon credits will further increase the sustainability of steel made from green hydrogen.
  • Transport:  Hydrogen fuel is used to power fuel cell electric cars which emit no hazardous gases. In the coming years, hydrogen fuel cell electric cars may become cost-competitive for heavy-duty vehicles with longer trip ranges, such as buses, lorries, and other commercial vehicles.
  • Shipping: By using green hydrogens or their derivatives, such as green ammonia and green methanol, as fuel for propulsion and other operations, maritime transportation and ports have a significant potential to reduce their carbon footprint.

What are the Challenges in Adoption of Green Hydrogen?

  • The high cost of manufacturing green hydrogen using renewable energy is the most significant barrier to its adoption in India. The green hydrogen value chain, i.e. production, storage, distribution, end-use and hydrogen compatible infrastructure requires heavy investments.
  • Lack of financial resources and investment capacities in India is one of the prime factors slowing the adoption of green hydrogen here.
  • The green hydrogen field would require highly trained and a specialized workforce to drive a faster adoption of the technology.
  • The production of hydrogen in general and green hydrogen in particular requires more energy than other fuels.
  • Hydrogen is a highly volatile and flammable element and extensive safety measures are required to prevent leakage and explosions.

What Steps have been Taken to Promote Green Hydrogen in India?

  • The National Green Hydrogen Mission:  It has been approved with the initial outlay of Rs.19,744 crore. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) will be responsible for overall coordination and implementation of the Mission.
    • Components of the Mission are:
      • SIGHT Programme: Under the Strategic Interventions for Green Hydrogen Transition Programme (SIGHT), two distinct financial incentive mechanisms – targeting domestic manufacturing of electrolysers and production of Green Hydrogen  will be provided under the Mission.
      • Pilot projects: The Mission will also support pilot projects in emerging end-use sectors and production pathways. Regions capable of supporting large scale production and/or utilization of Hydrogen will be identified and developed as Green Hydrogen Hubs.
      • R&D Projects: The Mission will assist the Strategic Hydrogen Innovation Partnership (SHIP), a public-private partnership structure for research and development. The objectives, deadlines, and magnitude of R&D initiatives shall be appropriate for creating globally competitive technology.
      • Skill Development: A coordinated skill development programme will also be undertaken under the Mission.
    • Mission Benefits:
      • Development of green hydrogen production capacity of at least 5 MMT (Million Metric Tonne) per annum with an associated renewable energy capacity addition of about 125 GW in the country.
      • Making India a leading producer and supplier of Green Hydrogen in the world.
      •  Creation of export opportunities for Green Hydrogen and its derivatives.
      •  Reduction in dependence on imported fossil fuels and feedstock.
      • Attracting investment and business opportunities for the industry.
      • Creating opportunities for employment and economic development.
  • Green Hydrogen/Green Ammonia Policy: The Government had launched this policy with an aim to provide clean fuel to the common people of India. This will reduce dependence on fossil fuel and also reduce crude oil imports.
    • According to the policy:
      • Green Hydrogen / Ammonia manufacturers may purchase renewable power from the power exchange.
      • Waiver of inter-state transmission charges for a period of 25 years will be allowed to the manufacturers of Green Hydrogen and Green Ammonia for the projects commissioned before 30th June 2025.
  • Initiatives by States/PSUs:
    • Kerala Hydrogen Economy Mission: Kerala aspires to become a 100% renewable energy-based State by 2040 and net carbon neutral by 2050.   The Government of Kerela has constituted the Kerala Hydrogen Economy Mission to contribute strategic inputs and facilitate partnerships towards transforming the State into a green hydrogen hub.
      • Kerala is also the first State in India to include hydrogen-powered mobility in its zero emissions mobility policy.
    • Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL): As part of a decarbonization effort, IOCL aims to replace at least a tenth of the present fossil fuel-based hydrogen at its refineries with green hydrogen.
    • Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC): India’s state-run Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and joint venture partner Greenko signed an agreement in July 2022 to invest up to US$ 6.2 billion in green hydrogen and renewable energy projects.

Way Forward

  • India has an advantageous geographical location and the presence of an abundance of natural resources that can aid in the production of green hydrogen.
  •  India also benefits from low-cost renewable power and rapidly decreasing electrolyser prices.
  • Green hydrogen production can be made cost-effective in India by adding the necessary capacity for renewable power generation, storage and transmission. This will enhance India’s self-sufficiency while ensuring energy security.
  • Green hydrogen ecosystem in India needs to be supported by proactive collaboration among innovators, entrepreneurs, and the government.
  •  Government’s initiatives for Green hydrogen can help India export high-value green products, making it one of the first major economies globally to industrialize without ‘carbonizing’.

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