Green hydrogen holds great promise for India
Green hydrogen can overcome difficulties that other renewable electricity-generating technologies create. India has joined the race to develop a green hydrogen economy
Earlier this week, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its Sixth Assessment Report, which focuses on the losses and damages the world is experiencing and will continue to experience in the future due to the climate crisis, hitting the most vulnerable people and ecosystems hard. The report is a final warning to governments that they must act now.
India is already suffering from the impacts of the climate crisis and will suffer further if strong actions are not taken to contain the scourge. The recent Joshimath disaster reminded us of the fragility of the Himalayan region. India also has a coastline of more than 7,500km, and the climate crisis is increasing the country’s cyclone risk. Over the past few years, India has witnessed two major, destructive cyclones making landfall. In 2020 and 2021, cyclones Amphan, Tauktae, Yaas, Nisarga and Nivar— all arising in either the Bay of Bengal or the Arabian Sea — made landfall, causing destruction. Inland India has several rivers that flood every year. Last year, India suffered a terrible heatwave that damaged the wheat crop due to a sharp spike in temperatures. Now, there is a shortage of milk because of fodder shortages.
It is well known that carbon dioxide is the main culprit for climate disasters, and the developed world is responsible for it. Although we have now been told we have to care about pollution or pay a heavy price, some, such as former Australian prime minister Scott Morrison, believe that technology will provide an answer to the problem. At the 26th edition of the Conference of the Parties in Glasgow in 2021, he told delegates: “Technology will have the answers to a decarbonised economy, particularly over time”.
Even if that were so, technological solutions (renewable energy) put forward so far have led to a new set of problems. My friends in France tell me that there is an outcry against the ugly wind farms, which are also noise-polluting and affect wildlife. Then there are waste disposal problems, particularly with nuclear energy, which, despite the dangers, still has many supporters.
However, there is some good news on the climate front: There is a new technology, green hydrogen, which can overcome difficulties that other renewable electricity-generating technologies create. Green hydrogen is the name of hydrogen gas produced using renewable energy, such as wind or solar power, which generate no greenhouse gas emissions. It is obtained through electrolysis. India has joined the global race to develop a green hydrogen economy to bolster its energy security.
However, green hydrogen faces some challenges. It is a capital-intensive process. A viable hydrogen infrastructure requires that hydrogen is able to be delivered from where it is produced to the point of end use, such as an industrial facility, power generator, or fueling station. Infrastructure includes pipelines, liquefaction plants, trucks, storage facilities, compressors, and dispensers involved in delivering fuel, says a United States government report.
India is still a coal consumer, but it unveiled the National Green Hydrogen Mission earlier this year. It aims to make India a global hub for the production, utilisation and export of green hydrogen and its derivatives, and make it energy-independent while decarbonising the economy. This step will bolster India’s climate fight.
The views expressed are personal