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India’s Green Hydrogen Mission: Myth or Reality?

November 10, 2021

Many nations are developing policies to reduce fossil fuels emissions dramatically in the near future. In fact, the International Energy Agency (IEA), the world’s leading energy agency, said this month that the global use of fossil fuels is expected to peak as soon as the mid-2020s and decline afterwards. In its annual World Energy Outlook, the IEA gathers data around the globe on energy trends and makes projections to 2050.
According to India’s 2021 Energy Outlook report, shared by the IEA in February, there are significant changes in progress in the country. For instance, power generation will move away from coal to solar PV and other clean sources in the upcoming years until 2040. However, a couple of questions may arise when we stumble upon “other clean sources”: which exactly are they? Are these viable alternatives from an economic standpoint? An energy source that is currently being largely discussed in the Indian infrastructure sector is green hydrogen.
On October 13th GRI Club Infra India held the online meeting “India’s Green Hydrogen Mission – Myth or reality?”. As stated by The National Hydrogen Energy Mission in the last Union Budget of India 2021-22, green hydrogen may be the future of clean energy.
This GRI Club eMeeting brought together government authorities, developers, investors and companies from the energy landscape to debate the key points to be addressed in structuring the process of the H2 regulations, production and distribution.

Actions must be urgent

The experts pointed out that climate changes we are seeing now were expected only in the mid-century, such as those caused by global warming. “The future is now”, they emphasized, and we need to accelerate the decarbonization process right away. A sense of urgency in this subject is vital for our planet.

Hydrogen provides security

One of the recurrent topics in the discussion was how safe hydrogen is compared to other types of fuels. Having energy security and independence is key if we are implementing a massive transformation in this area. Investors and authorities should bear this in mind to be successful.

Strategy is essential

Despite being relatively new, the program, announced on August 15th, has the target of putting up at least 10 gigawatts of green hydrogen within the coming decade. Strategic thinking has to be a priority, since “Hydrogen will be the oil of the 21st century”.

The government has to support the ecosystem

Another talking point throughout the meeting was the role of the Indian government in the hydrogen ecosystem. All our guests agreed that the public sector has major relevance when it comes to backing all the steps involved in transportation, storage and funding. In this regard, both fiscal and non-fiscal support is critical. Hydrogen has to be competitive value-wise: although there are cost challenges, the mission is to make it cheaper.

The approach of investments should be collective

Investments on green hydrogen must come from different places, in a collective effort. Public and private sectors have to cooperate in order to make a first early move thinking about global demand and an export market. A notable shift is rarely driven by one or two stakeholders, it is, rather, a result of a unified force.

Big transformations start by setting smaller milestones

Investors may get overwhelmed if they do not break down the long term goals into attainable objectives. This happens because, as our guests said, we are dealing with a technology that has not been fully cracked yet. In other words, the green hydrogen agenda requires time and planning to be in place. Actions start now, but it may take a while before we see this clean energy source spreading around the world.

Standardization will reduce future problems

It was highlighted during our meeting how important it is to standardize the protocols of transportation and storage, not only in India, but also globally. This will enable better, faster, more efficient communication among every party involved in these processes. We must overcome all the barriers and struggles in the way of the fuel of the future.

The supply chain needs to be solid

Our guests acknowledged the relevance in reaching security and consistency in the hydrogen’s supply chain, from top to bottom. This means asking the right questions before any proceedings, such as “where to get minerals?”, “where the manufacturing takes place?”. Corporates will invest both in consumption and production, but establishing a solid supply chain is equally essential.

Investing in green hydrogen creates a worldwide impact

The debate focused also on the international landscape and opportunities brought by India's Hydrogen Mission. The consensus was that green hydrogen enables cooperation with countries who are either new to this technology or in developmental stages, but lack the scale capacity. This is bigger than one country & it has implications for the entire world.

A global green hydrogen alliance has to be the end goal

Finally, the discussion brought us an interesting reflection on how to accomplish the best possible outcomes for the energy sector in the long term. Our guests suggested the constitution of a global green hydrogen alliance. This is not far-fetched, since today 32 countries – plus the European Union – have ongoing hydrogen missions, and there are 10 alliances as well. Each of these coalitions, however, takes on a local approach, rather than a global one. In brief, national and regional initiatives are extremely important, but they should be viewed as stepping-stones towards building a global joint effort.

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