Analysis of Yojana Magazine: Self Reliance in Energy Sector_00.1
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Analysis of Yojana Magazine: Self Reliance in Energy Sector

Context

At present, the country’s entire production of hydrogen comes from fossil fuels. However, by 2050, three-fourth of all hydrogen is projected to be green.

Background

  • India is not energy independent. It spends over Rs 12 lakh crore on importing energy.
  • The government is planning to get energy independence before 100 years of independence is completed.
  • As green power takes precedence in the global scheme of things, the Indian government has already kick-started its green hydrogen journey.
  • On 15 August 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged the launch of a National Hydrogen Mission and announced his decision to transform India into a global hub for green hydrogen production and export.

Why National Hydrogen Mission Launched?

  • The NHM was proposed in Budget 2021 and launched on August 15, 2021, to facilitate the generation of hydrogen “from green power sources.”
  • Hydrogen is an important resource of energy produced both naturally and chemically.
  • As part of the multifaceted puzzle of a green energy transition, hydrogen plays a vital role.
  • It is one of the key factors for producing renewable energy and working as a carrier for the emission-free energy system of the future.
  • Hydrogen serves as the roadmap for today which shall eventually lead the economy towards a new high.
  • Impacting industries by making things and processes cost-efficient, it also ensures that the nations relying solely on coal utility are supported in an eco-friendly way.
  • Production of renewable hydrogen is imperative to scale up the production of hydrogen and thus help governments, companies and others to seize this chance to enable clean hydrogen to fulfil its long-term potential.

What is Green Hydrogen?

  • As one of the cleanest forms of energy in the world, green hydrogen is one of the ultimate solutions to achieve net-zero emissions.
  • Green hydrogen is produced by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using an electrolyzer powered by electricity from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.
  • With electrolysis, all you need to produce large amounts of hydrogen is water, a big electrolyser, and electricity.
  • An electric current then splits the water into hydrogen and oxygen.
  • This ensures no greenhouse gas emissions as the only by-product of this process is oxygen, making it a great replacement for carbon-emitting fuels.

How Hydrogen Can Drive India to Energy Self-Reliance?

  • With growing economic activities, the energy demand too will increase in the form of electricity and transportation fuels.
  • To cater to the increasing demand for fuels and with the absence of renewables, the dependence on fossil fuels rises which not only increases local pollution in the form of particulate matter emission that can pose serious health impacts, it also leads to CO2 emission, the primary cause of global warming.
  • Hydrogen can prove to be a game-changer. It has the potential to find its environmental benefits in sectors and applications like power generation, transportation and indoor heating in the commercial and residential sector
  • Hydrogen’s potential as a clean fuel, energy storage medium and renewable energy enabler has captured the attention of energy sector players, governments, environmental advocacy groups, and users.
  • Against the backdrop of the proposed National Hydrogen Energy Mission supporting India’s green energy initiatives with green hydrogen, several hydrogen initiatives and projects are emerging in India.
  • Ninety countries, representing 80% of the world’s GDP, are now committed to Net Zero targets.
  • India has some obvious competitive advantages that should be utilized to push the national hydrogen initiatives, both to accelerate the decarbonization of the world, as one of the greatest emitters of CO2, but also to take part in the value creation that lies ahead in the green energy transition.
  • India is well-positioned to take a lead role in the global hydrogen economy, with its extremely ambitious target of 450 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2030.

What should be the Approach for becoming energy self-reliant?

  • It would need a strong alliance between industries, academia, R&D institutes and government to catalyze the process of making hydrogen as the fuel of the future.
  • The above alliance will have to work on challenging mindsets, bringing collaborators, finding alternatives and most important formulating guidelines and policies for harnessing the power of this green fuel for reducing the impacts of climate change and promoting Atmanirbhar Bharat (Self-Reliant India).
  • Government, in harmony with the private sector, should work cohesively and ensure that the investment in the energy market is inclined towards green hydrogen.
  • Matching the global standards, the process will not only create a healthier today for businesses and minimise the impact of past records of anthropogenic interferences but also preserve the natural cover and secure the future with to-be introduced hydrogen practices such as transportation and storage along with tracing and eliminating the ill-impact of carbon footprint.
  • With a strategic vision and administration to make India more sustainable, establishing the green hydrogen system will aid the country in becoming energy-self reliant and achieve greater things across several verticals.
  • Green energy has tremendous potential in contributing to income, employment, and entrepreneurship and undoubtedly fosters sustainable development. In addition to job creation and income generation, it opens up opportunities/avenues for investment and markets for new products and services.
  • In view of the increasing demand for electricity by households and corporates, the production of renewable energy as a substitute for fossil fuels energy is essential to make a carbon-free economy.
  • India must exploit solar and wind energy, and especially the green hydrogen energy in its electricity system to meet the ever-increasing demand of the people.
  • It will be possible primarily by addressing the demand flexibility, plants flexibility, and storage & grid flexibility along with the market and regulatory support.

Key Challenges

  • Producing green hydrogen is an expensive undertaking with the biggest cost being the electrolyser. The membrane-electrode unit accounts for 60% to 70% of its cost while precious metals account for the rest.
  • Manufacturing at a greater scale could reduce these costs but since demand is limited, production capacities are yet low.
  • Hydrogen is also an expensive fuel to move. The gas needs to be cooled to -252°C before transportation. While it can be stored as ammonia, a more stable form, reconversion is expensive.

Way Forward

  • India’s current energy import bill is approx. over $160 bn ( ₹12 tn) a year. The continued coal and oil dependency will increase this amount by 2-3 times.
  • To cut down expenses and reduce this dependency, sustainable sources of energy like green hydrogen will become more of a necessity than a choice in the near future.
  • The government has already announced a draft policy mandating that green hydrogen account for 10% of the overall hydrogen needs of refiners by 2023-24. For the fertiliser sector, the requirement is around 15%.
  • It also plans to increase its non-fossil energy capacity to 500 GW by 2030 and meet 50% of its energy requirements from renewable energy by 2030.

Conclusion

As India moves towards a new paradigm of ‘Atma Nirbhar’ Bharat, our energy security is a key component of this new resolve. We have already given pride of place to solar power and now hydrogen, yet there is a lot more to our energy policy that requires a concerted effort from government and industry.

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