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India plans major renewables and hydrogen push

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    22nd Jan, 2022


India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has signed a strategic partnership agreement with IRENA, signaling its intent to further strengthen its collaboration with IRENA in the field of renewable energy.

What is green hydrogen? 

  • Hydrogen is the simplest and smallest element in the periodic table. 
    • No matter how it is produced, it ends up with the same carbon-free molecule.
    • However, the pathways to produce it are very diverse, and so are the emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4). 
  • Green hydrogen is defined as hydrogen produced by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using renewable electricity. 
  • This is a very different pathway compared to both grey and blue.

Grey and Blue Hydrogen

  • Grey hydrogen is traditionally produced from methane (CH4), split with steam into CO2 – the main culprit for climate change – and H2, hydrogen. 
    • Grey hydrogen has increasingly been produced also from coal, with significantly higher CO2 emissions per unit of hydrogen produced, so much that is often called brown or black hydrogen instead of grey. 
  • Blue hydrogen follows the same process as grey, with the additional technologies necessary to capture the CO2 produced when hydrogen is split from methane (or from coal) and store it for long term. 
    • It is not one colour but rather a very broad gradation, as not 100% of the CO2 produced can be captured, and not all means of storing it are equally effective in the long term.
    • The main point is that by capturing a large part of the CO2, the climate impact of hydrogen production can be reduced significantly.

India’s capacity

  • India installed 13 gigawatts (GW) of renewables in 2021.
  • The country has grown its capacity by over 53 GW in the last five years, positioning it as one of the fastest growing renewable energy adopters in the world. 
  • With massive renewable energy potential, India has an aim to become a major producer of green hydrogen to support the decarbonisation of its industrial economy.
  • According to IRENA, hydrogen will account for around 12 per cent of total energy supply in a 1.5°C world by 2050.

Key-highlights of the strategic partnership agreement

  • Knowledge sharing: Under the partnership, IRENA will facilitate knowledge sharing from India on scaling-up renewable energy and clean energy technologies.
  • Domestic green hydrogen: IRENA will support India’s efforts to advance cost-effective decarbonisation through the development of domestic green hydrogen. 
  • The two will work closely to assess the potential role green hydrogen can play both as an enabler of the transition in India and as a new source of national energy exports.
  • India has initiated the process for developing and launching a National Green Hydrogen Mission to enable cost competitive green hydrogen production, storage, distribution, and application technologies.

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