Ambani, Adani in India’s green hydrogen rush but hurdles remain – What We Know!

Hydrogen packs much more punch than lithium-based batteries. India’s federal minister Nitin Gadkari (second from left) seen right here launching the nation’s first inexperienced hydrogen-based superior gas cell electrical car (FCEV), Toyota Mirai, at his residence in March.

Hindustan Occasions | Hindustan Occasions | Getty Photographs

The solar’s searing warmth will be punishing on summer time days and India’s huge shoreline makes it a problem to defend. However huge quantities of water and ample daylight have opened a path to inexperienced power that would slake India’s huge urge for food for gas.

Indian corporations have pledged to commit billions of {dollars} to inexperienced hydrogen initiatives — however consultants warning that the expertise remains to be very new and its business viability unproven.  

Inexperienced hydrogen is a clear gas that’s produced by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen, utilizing renewable power similar to solar energy. When burnt, it emits no exhaust, solely water. Environmentalists declare it may well assist decarbonize heavy industries like oil refining, fertilizers, metal and cement, in addition to assist reduce emissions globally.

“At this level, the expertise just isn’t mature or low cost sufficient for use extensively,” Amit Bhandari, senior fellow, power and funding at Gateway Home, a Mumbai-based suppose tank, advised CNBC. He pointed to the instance of photo voltaic power which took a couple of decade to turn out to be viable.

The inexperienced hydrogen trade remains to be in its infancy and pilot vegetation to check the expertise and prices will take not less than 5 years to indicate outcomes, Bhandari stated.

“Ten years in the past, in the event you had requested me if photo voltaic power is viable, I might have stated ‘no,’ despite the fact that solar energy potential was identified and expertise was accessible. It took off solely when the fee grew to become akin to conventional power sources over an extended time period,” Bhandari stated, including that he was reluctant to put in writing off a brand new expertise.

Renewables at present account for nearly 40% of whole put in capability in India, the world’s third largest crude oil importer after China and the U.S.

However with out large-scale power storage, renewable power can’t turn out to be a viable various to conventional energy sources. 

Lithium batteries can’t retailer power at a big scale despite the fact that they’re extensively used to energy electrical automobiles. Inexperienced hydrogen, which will be saved in massive quantities, can energy heavy automobiles similar to vans over lengthy distances. 

India’s authorities final yr introduced a nationwide inexperienced hydrogen coverage with a goal of manufacturing 5 million tons of the gas yearly by 2030. In February, it offered tax breaks and allotted land to arrange vegetation to spice up the funding

Proper now, India is weak to all method of exterior and geopolitical shocks. With inexperienced hydrogen, that vulnerability will scale back.

Amit Bhandari

Senior fellow, power and funding, Gateway Home, Mumbai

“Two essential sources are required to turn out to be a big world participant: water and low cost energy,” the chairman of Celeris Applied sciences, Venkat Sumantran, advised CNBC. “India has a big shoreline with entry to seawater and ample daylight.” 

A number of states in India get good daylight a lot of the yr and this enables photo voltaic panel farms to be optimally deployed, stated Sumantran, whose Chennai-based consultancy agency offers new power options to fossil fuels within the auto sector.

However changing into a world participant additionally depends upon how cheaply photovoltaic cells — which convert daylight into power — are produced. “There are a lot of indicators that insurance policies to permit this to occur are being applied,” he added.

Indian corporations investing in hydrogen

In current months, a number of Indian corporations have introduced inexperienced hydrogen plans:

  • In January, India’s largest firm by market capitalization Reliance Industries introduced it will commit $75 billion to inexperienced power, together with an undisclosed quantity  towards inexperienced hydrogen initiatives. 
  • In early April, Hyderabad-based Greenko group and Belgium-based John Cockerill to construct a two-gigawatt hydrogen electrolyzer gigafactory in India, the biggest outdoors of China.
  • In March, state-owned Indian Oil Company, which accounts for almost half the market share of India’s petroleum merchandise, teamed up with two personal corporations to launch a three way partnership to develop inexperienced hydrogen. There are additionally plans to fabricate and promote electrolyzers, used within the manufacturing of inexperienced hydrogen.
  • In November 2021, the world’s largest solar energy developer Adani Group introduced it will make investments $70 billion by 2030 into renewable power infrastructure, together with in inexperienced hydrogen. 

Reliance Industries and Adani Group have each pledged to make the world’s least expensive inexperienced hydrogen at $1 per kilogram, or a couple of quarter of a gallon — that’s down from the present price of $5-$6. When contacted by CNBC, neither firm offered particulars on how they have been going to deliver down the prices so drastically. 

Inexperienced hydrogen fuels India’s geostrategic ambitions too.

Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani predicted that inexperienced power has the potential to be a gamechanger. 

“When wooden was changed with coal, Europe overtook India and China to emerge the world chief. With the emergence of oil, the U.S. and West Asia outgrew others,” he stated at a convention on renewables in February in Pune, a western Indian metropolis.  

“When India turns into not solely self-sufficient in inexperienced and clear power, but additionally a big exporter, it’ll assist India emerge as a world energy,” he stated at the moment.

Acknowledging there was quite a lot of hype round inexperienced hydrogen, Bhandari from Gateway Home stated it was not essentially a foul factor.

“A key factor is that hype can create its personal actuality. If there’s the correct quantity of capital, human intelligence is thrown at an issue. And expertise evolves. Prices begin to fall and that creates demand,” he stated.

“Momentum is on the facet of innovation and prices are declining. Additionally, there’s already demand for inexperienced hydrogen, which will be absorbed immediately within the petroleum refining, fertilizer and metal industries,” he added.

Pilot initiatives wanted

Inexperienced hydrogen will turn out to be commercially viable solely when it turns into cheaper, Bhandari famous. 

“You can’t begin with a 500 megawatt plant,” he stated, including that even an organization like Reliance, which has had lengthy expertise dealing with hydrogen fuel at its oil refineries, wouldn’t put money into an enormous plant with out pilot initiatives. “We’re a number of years away from large-scale capability,” he stated.

Tapping India’s 7,500 kilometer lengthy shoreline can be difficult, Bhandari stated.

“There are different claims on the shoreline. It isn’t uninhabited. There are a number of massive cities and ports. And, it should be weighed towards the necessity to shield mangroves and different fragile ecosystems too,” he stated. 

Nonetheless, he conceded that if profitable, the inexperienced hydrogen push would make India much less weak to cost shocks in pure fuel and oil.

“Proper now, India is weak to all method of exterior and geopolitical shocks. With inexperienced hydrogen, that vulnerability will scale back,” he stated.