Green Hydrogen : Challenges – UPSC GS3

National Hydrogen Energy Mission:
  • Indian prepares to launch the National Hydrogen Energy Mission (NHEM).
  • India currently consumes approximately 5.5 million tonnes of hydrogen, which is mainly derived from imported fossil fuels. With NHEM, India will be able to reduce its reliance on fossil fuel imports.
What is green hydrogen?
  • Green Hydrogen is pure hydrogen generated by using renewable energy such as solar power and wind energy. The by products are water and water vapour.
  • Hydrogen is an energy carrier. It is converted into electricity by fuel cells, which generate electricity by mixing hydrogen and oxygen atoms.
  • It will play an important role in delivering zero-emission transport.
Other Type of Hydrogens:
Hydrogen gas has a chameleon-like character depending on its method of production. For instance,
  • Grey Hydrogen: If produced using fossil fuels,
  • Blue Hydrogen: If produced using fossil fuels but with carbon capture,
  • Green Hydrogen: If produced using renewable energy,
  • Pink Hydrogen: If produced using electrolysis powered by nuclear energy,
  • More niche definitions go on to add brown, black, turquoise, and yellow variants of hydrogen.
Importance of Hydrogen as a fuel
  • Environment friendly: Hydrogen is a clean fuel that, when consumed in a fuel cell, releases only water as a by-product. Due to their high efficiency and zero-or near zero-emissions operation, hydrogen has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emission.
  • Readily available: It is a basic earth element and is very abundant. Only challenge is to separate hydrogen gas from its companion substances.
  • Efficient fuel : It produces three times more energy than other fossil fuels.
Challenges:
  • Transportation cost : Majority of low-cost renewable energy resources are located far from potential demand centres. As a result, the cost of transportation from the plant to the demand centre rises.
  • High cost of production : The technology used in production of green hydrogen is still in its early stages and is costly, which raises the cost of production.
  • Storage related issues
  • External energy source is required to isolate hydrogen: It does not occur naturally as a gas on the Earth. It is always in combination with other elements such as water (H2O).
  • Low production of Electrolysers: There is currently no major Indian manufacturer of Electrolysers (splits water into hydrogen and oxygen). As a result, India is reportedly importing electrolysers, which makes the cost uneconomical.
  • Limited technology for compressing and storing hydrogen for automobiles.
Recommendations:
  • Decentralized hydrogen production
  • Continuous access to renewable energy for decentralized hydrogen production.
  • Need to blend green Hydrogen into existing conventional hydrogen process. This would also aid in the development of a scientific understanding of the processes involved in large-scale hydrogen handling.
  • Investment for R&D on green Hydrogen technology is required. Green hydrogen processing technology is still in its early stages, requiring extensive research and development to advance.
  • Focus on domestic manufacturing:
    • Need to establish an end-to-end electrolyser manufacturing facility.
    • Needs to secure supplies of raw materials.
    • Need manufacturing strategy that integrates with the global value chain and can maximize existing strengths.