Green Hydrogen Mission can power India’s clean-energy future. But scale will be key to mass adoption
The government’s Green Hydrogen Mission has generated a lot of interest, with major industry players eyeing a chunk of the INR19,744 crore initial investment outlay to produce 5 million metric tonnes (MMT) per annum of clean fuel by 2030. Experts believe that the financial commitment from the government will encourage companies and help accelerate private investments in the sector going forward.
Meanwhile, big players in the sector such as Adani New Industries Ltd (ANIL), L&T, Reliance Industries, NTPC Renewable Energy, and Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) have already announced strategic partnerships for research and technology development in the sector.
According to Kapil Maheshwari, president - renewable energy and green hydrogen development, Reliance Industries, the Green Hydrogen Mission, released in 2022, has set a roadmap that can turn India into a net exporter of energy for the first time.
“We are getting an opportunity to lead the world rather than saying we will catch the bus later, which we have seen in renewables already. All possible geographies are looking at doing some small pilots to prove technologies. Some big Indian conglomerates have announced their plans (in green hydrogen) and key government-owned entities such as NTPC and IOC have also announced their initiatives on all possible green-hydrogen projects,” he says.
ANIL, a subsidiary of Adani Enterprises, has announced an investment of up to USD50 billion (INR4lakh crore) over the next decade in the green-hydrogen ecosystem to produce up to 3MMT of fuel annually. It aims to cut the cost of green hydrogen by a third from USD6/kg and bring it at par with grey hydrogen. A sizable share of Adani Enterprises’ INR20,000 crore follow-on public offering (FPO) is expected to fuel its ambition to become a major global player in green hydrogen as the company looks to leverage its facilities at Mundra special economic zone to set up the ecosystem.
According to industry experts, the government has made its intent to go big in the sector clear with the allocation of funds for the mission. “I think the direction and intent are right while policy challenges are being addressed. This new mission will help in channeling more investments because when the government puts in some money, it becomes less risky,” says Vibhuti Garg, energy economist and lead - India, Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).
The mission roadmap
Some of the pilot projects that India is looking to explore include hydrogen highways with fuelling stations for trucks and interstate buses, steel plants powered by green hydrogen-blended fuels, hydrogen hubs for pooling resources to scale up production, hydrogen-fuelled ships for transportation of fuel by state-owned oil-and-gas companies, and green-ammonia bunkers at ports.
Now, let’s take a look at the salient features of the Green Hydrogen Mission.
#1. Cumulative investments of INR8 lakh crore are expected in green-hydrogen projects by 2030.
#2. The mission will create six lakh jobs.
#3. Carbon dioxide emission is likely to be brought down by 50MMT/annum.
#4. Green hydrogen output of 5MMT by 2030, scalable to 10MMT depending on demand and infrastructure.
#5. Targets to meet 10% of the global demand for green hydrogen.
To achieve these goals, the mission calls for a phased approach. The first phase (2022-23 to 2025-26) will see the deployment of green hydrogen in sectors that are already using hydrogen. Further, an ecosystem will be built for research and development, regulations, and pilot projects. The second phase (2026-27 to 2029-30) will involve building on this foundation and undertaking green hydrogen initiatives in new sectors of the economy.
As per a policy document by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), the nodal ministry for the mission, the focus will be across three key verticals, namely, demand creation through domestic consumption and making green hydrogen produced in India competitive for exports, addressing supply-side constraints through an incentive framework, and building an enabling ecosystem to support scaling and development.
To make green hydrogen a feasible alternative to grey hydrogen (produced using fossil fuels), the MNRE is aiming to bring down the cost of renewable energy for electrolyser-based projects, scale up production, and explore mechanisms for dollar-denominated bids for green hydrogen/ammonia, besides setting up decentralised power generation facilities such as rooftop-solar and small/micro-hydel plants.
The mission proposes pilot projects for replacing fossil fuel-based feedstock with green hydrogen and its derivatives for hard-to-abate sectors such as steel, long-range heavy-duty mobility, energy storage, and shipping. For the implementation of the mission, an empowered group chaired by the cabinet secretary will be set up.
The document also calls for demand creation. A legal provision for ensuring the enforceability of consumption targets for green hydrogen and its derivatives will be established, which will empower the Centre to specify the minimum share of energy and feedstock consumption from non-fossil fuel-based sources that the industry must ensure.
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