By: Nripendra Abhishek
“Hydrogen is today enjoying unprecedented momentum. The world should not miss this unique chance to make hydrogen an important part of our clean and secure energy future.” – Dr. Fatih Birol
The central government has increased its renewable energy target from 175 GW in 2022 to 450 GW by 2030. To fulfil this goal, a proposal for ‘National Hydrogen Energy Mission’ has been given in the Union Budget 2021, through this mission Hydrogen energy is to be promoted. The management of the country’s energy sector today is not only important from an economic point of view, but it is also very important in terms of reducing carbon emissions to deal with the dangers of climate change because even today most of the energy production comes from thermal power plants, which are completely dependent on the use of coal.
In such a situation, hydrogen energy raises hope in the form of clean and abundant energy. Green Hydrogen, with zero emissions, can run heavy machines that cannot run on solar and wind power. This carbon-free fuel will be made from water. For this, hydrogen and oxygen molecules will be separated with the help of electricity generated from renewable energy sources. It gives up to three times the energy as compared to the common fuel. It is completely clean energy as only water is released into the product after its use making it completely pollution-free. Because of its high fuel efficiency, it is used as rocket fuel for spacecraft launches. Hydrogen is an element that is abundantly available on Earth. Therefore, it can be used as an alternative to clean fuel. To meet the highest demand for electricity and the use of clean fuel in the future, the government should work towards the production of hydrogen fuel.
Scientists at IIT Delhi have discovered a technique to separate hydrogen fuel from water at a very low cost. A team of professors and students from IIT Delhi has prepared the fuel in a hydrogen production pilot plant. At the same time, Dr. Pritam Singh, a scientist of the Department of Ceramic Engineering at IIT-BHU, Varanasi, has made the world’s purest hydrogen fuel from crop residues such as straw, wheat stalk, sugarcane husks, and wood residues. Green Hydrogen Energy is important for meeting India’s Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) targets and ensuring energy security at the regional and national levels. Green hydrogen can be used as an alternative to energy storage, which can be used as renewable energy in the future. This seems to be proving beneficial for the future. This maintains a zero-carbon footprint. Green hydrogen has zero carbon emissions. This will get rid of problems like pollution and global warming. Talking about its storage, it can be stored in the tank. In such a situation, it will prove to be very useful for vehicles. Its weight is also very light. It is very light compared to a lithium battery. Long-distance vehicles can carry a large amount of it. Along with this, it can be refilled in less time.
Apart from various advantages, it also has some challenges. The first challenge in this is regarding its safety. Being highly flammable, hydrogen is also extremely dangerous. Any vehicle moving through it cannot be considered safe. The second challenge can be seen in the form of supply storage. Its safe supply and storage remain a difficult task even today, due to its flammability and its compulsion to be kept at very low temperatures. It is so flammable that it can be classified as an explosion. However, it is not that it cannot be controlled and burnt. The third challenge is in the form of cost of production. The production cost of hydrogen is still high compared to petrochemicals. Another one of the biggest challenges in using hydrogen commercially is the removal of green hydrogen. Hydrogen removal is a very expensive process. Currently, most of the renewable energy resources, from which electricity can be produced at a low cost, have their production centres located away from the places where they are in demand.
Institutions should facilitate investment at an early stage and encourage necessary research and development to advance green hydrogen technology in India. For this, the government will have to come forward as well as the private sector will also have to come forward to ensure energy security for the future. India should learn from the experience of the National Solar Mission and focus on domestic manufacturing.
India is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels and coal for electricity generation when compared with the world’s largest countries. Even in the adoption of new technology, the country does not have the speed that is seen in the developed countries of the world. It was recently announced that in the next six years, India will increase the installed capacity of renewable energy by two and a half times. This mission can improve India’s situation in the world.
There is a need to make some efforts to deal with its challenges so that it is convenient to use this future fuel. The first task for this is to decentralize its production. Decentralized hydrogen production is done by an electrolyzer, whose main function is to split water into H2 and O2, ensuring access to renewable energy. The second attempt is to have the minimum frequency. Decentralized hydrogen production will require a mechanism to ensure the availability of renewable energy round the clock so that electricity is available continuously.
As a third effort, to reduce the intermittency associated with renewable energy, which would mean unintentional shutdown or partial unavailability of a power source, ensuring a continuous hydrogen supply to the fuel cell. The fourth effort is to have incremental production. Improving the reliability of hydrogen supply by producing green hydrogen with conventionally produced hydrogen would greatly improve fuel economy. All these efforts will help in meeting the challenges and will prove beneficial for the future of India in the world of fuel.