India’s green hydrogen push may have European impact –

Even as major economies face pressing energy security challenges, we need to start thinking about the energy sources of the future. The spread of renewable energies is accelerating but the pace of economic decarbonisation remains too slow.

Dr Arunabha Ghosh is CEO of the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), one of the world’s leading climate think tanks, and a member of the Secretary’s High Level Panel General of the United Nations on Net Zero Emissions Commitments by Non-State Organizations. Entities. Follow @GhoshArunabha.

Indeed, we have not begun to deploy large-scale solutions to reduce emissions from heavy industry and long-distance transport. Green hydrogen has a major role to play here. India and members of the European Union have programs and targets for greater adoption of green hydrogen. They should start looking at each other.

Industry accounts for 24% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; transportation for an additional 15%. Even if all the electricity needed to run our homes came from renewables, it would only be a partial solution to meeting net-zero emissions goals. Emerging economies like India still need steel for bridges or fertilizer to feed themselves. Simple electricity based on renewable energies cannot replace coal in a blast furnace. How to decarbonize industry without deindustrializing our economies?

Green hydrogen is obtained by using renewable (or carbon-free) energy to separate water. It has many applications in industry (refineries, fertilizers, methanol and steel), for long-distance mobility (trucks, buses, aviation and maritime transport), as an energy carrier (green ammonia or mixed with natural gas ) and for energy storage in the electricity sector. The International Energy Agency estimates that hydrogen demand has increased more than fivefold between 2020 and 2050 to ensure a net zero emissions scenario.

Aware of the need to accelerate climate action, India is betting heavily on green hydrogen. On August 15 last year (Independence Day), Prime Minister Modi announced the National Green Hydrogen Mission. The ambition is to produce 5 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) of green hydrogen by 2030, an investment opportunity of at least $100 billion.

There are other benefits, including a 68% reduction in liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports from India, savings of almost €5 billion on import bills and a reduction of €50 million tons of CO2 emissions in 2030.

The production of 5 MTPA of green hydrogen generates a demand for approximately 100 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy and 40 GW of electrolyser capacity. Think of it as a floor rather than a ceiling. A study by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water estimates that an additional 3.45 MTPA of green hydrogen demand could come from emerging sectors (steel, mobility and hydrogen blending in gas pipelines). This would require an additional 70 GW of renewable electricity, 28 GW of electrolysers and $78 billion in investment.

India’s mission boldly converges a massive deployment of renewable energy (in line with the target of 500 GW of fossil-free power capacity by 2030) with the exploitation of new industrial decarbonization pathways, as well as a huge investment opportunity.

In February this year, the government notified the Ammonia/Hydrogen Green Policy as the first tranche of the policy framework that will guide the mission. Charges for transporting renewable energy between states have been waived to reduce costs and facilitate its generation closer to points of use. This approach could reduce hydrogen transport costs (up to 60% in some cases) and reduce leaks of a volatile gas.

Indian industry is keen to follow. Reliance Industries has announced its intention to build a gigantic factory to manufacture high-efficiency, low-cost electrolyzers. Adani Enterprises has declared a collaboration with Italian conglomerate Maire Tecnimont, to develop green hydrogen projects in India.

ACME has commissioned a plant in Rajasthan to produce green hydrogen and green ammonia and plans to build a larger facility in Oman. NTPC, the largest thermal power producer, has launched a pilot for a hydrogen-based green microgrid for energy storage.

These developments in India strongly complement efforts within the EU. Although 38 countries plus the EU have announced or are developing national hydrogen policies/strategies, only India’s ambition comes close to the EU target of producing 10 MTPA of green hydrogen from by 2030 and to import an additional 10 MTPA.

As of May 2022, 39 bilateral decarbonized hydrogen partnerships have been announced, with Germany accounting for almost a third of them. Several other European countries (Austria, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal) are also involved, presenting many opportunities for collaboration.

India and the EU could now collaborate to accelerate the development and deployment of green and decarbonized hydrogen. Here are four ideas.

First, collaborate in research and development. Most research is concentrated in advanced economies while the main sources of demand are in emerging markets. Asia, which will have the greatest demand, is not very present in hydrogen-related research partnerships.

The collaboration can help reduce electrolyser costs, establish pilots in different geographies to test equipment, and pilot end-use applications such as green steel in the second-largest electrolyser-producing nation. steel in the world. Pooling human, technical and financial resources could help form new consortia and joint ventures.

Second, as the green hydrogen economy gains momentum, robust supply chains will be required for the supply of raw materials (including critical minerals), equipment (including membranes used in electrolysers), as well as protocols and interoperability for safe transport, storage and use. The EU alone expects to spend $46 billion on electrolyzers this decade. Collaboration between India and the EU could anchor the development of a resilient supply chain to ensure the security of an important industrial energy source.

Third, the aggregate demand for green hydrogen/green ammonia supply could provide much larger markets for technology developers, equipment manufacturers, renewable energy generators and hydrogen producers. With economies of scale, costs could drop faster. With fair business practices and intellectual property protection, the diffusion of technology could be faster.

Additionally, blending mandates for green hydrogen derivatives, such as marine and aviation fuel, could catalyze the market even if the costs of pure green hydrogen remain prohibitive in the near term. Indian green ammonia costs could break even with conventional ammonia by 2030, providing a major source of decarbonized bunker fuel for shipping.

Fourth, cooperation on standards and rules could reduce trade barriers and expand opportunities in both markets. In a rainbow of green, blue, turquoise, gray and other hydrogen shades, there are legitimate concerns about greenwashing. Periodic technology assessments and verified emissions accounting would be helpful.

Major economies must develop rules jointly to avoid depressing the market at a nascent stage of development. Likewise, since different geographies have resources placed differently (land, water, renewable energy sources), there should be greater flexibility as to where renewable energy is generated and where the green hydrogen is produced.

Green hydrogen is not the panacea for all our environmental shortcomings, but it is essential to quickly decarbonize some of the hardest-to-reduce sectors. At a time when energy security, climate action, geopolitics and international cooperation have all converged, India’s big push for green hydrogen deserves a European push to deliver more climate action.

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