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Opportunities and Challenges of Green Hydrogen in India

GS Paper 3

 Syllabus: Energy sector


Source: IE

 Context: India is making strides in embracing green hydrogen as a promising alternative fuel, evident from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy’s Rs 496 crore scheme supporting pilot projects.


Definition of Green Hydrogen:

Green hydrogen is produced through a process called electrolysis, where water is split into hydrogen and oxygen using renewable energy sources such as solar or wind power.

In August 2023, the Union Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, Government of India, provided a definition for green hydrogen, specifying it as having a well-to-gate emission (encompassing water treatment, electrolysis, gas purification, drying and compression of hydrogen) not exceeding 2 kg CO2 equivalent per kg H2. In contrast, grey hydrogen (produced using fossil fuels), on average, emits 10 kg of CO2 per kg of H2 produced.


Nodal Agency: The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) (under the Union Ministry of Power) is the nodal authority responsible for accrediting agencies for monitoring, verifying and certifying green hydrogen production projects.


Initiatives for Green Hydrogen:

  1. Oil India Limited (OIL) recently commissioned India’s first 99% pure green hydrogen plant in eastern Assam’s Jorhat
  2. NTPC (in Kawas, Surat)has started India’s 1st Green Hydrogen Blendingoperation in the Piped Natural gas (PNG) Network.
  3. The Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB)has given approval for a 5% blending of green hydrogen with PNG (later to be scaled to 20%)
  4. Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC)has collaborated with business management consultant
  5. The Green Billions (TGBL) to manage its waste and generate it into useable green hydrogen (under the waste-to-hydrogen project)
  6. Strategic Clean Energy Partnership (SCEP)to mobilise finance and speed up green energy development
  7. The Union Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas launched India’s inaugural Green Hydrogen Fuel Cell Bus in New Delhi in September 2023.


Significance of Green Hydrogen energy:

  • Emission reduction: IEA (International Energy Agency) points out, that the method of obtaining green hydrogen would save the 830 million tonnes of CO2 that are emitted annually when Hydrogen is produced using fossil fuels.
  • Viable alternative: With green hydrogen, if the production costs fall by 50 % by 2030, it could certainly evolve as one of the fuels of the future. Also, hydrogen is easy to store, which allows it to be used subsequently for other purposes and at times other than immediately after its production.
  • Energy Security and Independence: As fossil fuels are finite and susceptible to global supply fluctuations, green hydrogen fosters energy independence.
  • Creating New Industries and Jobs: According to IRENA, the green sector employed 11 million people in 2018, with projections of over 42 million jobs by 2050.
  • Decarbonizing Difficult-to-Decarbonize Sectors: Sectors like heavy industry and aviation, hard to decarbonize, can benefit from green hydrogen substitution. This helps mitigate their significant carbon emissions.


Applications of Green Hydrogen:

Agriculture SectorGreen hydrogen can replace traditional fertilizers in agriculture by producing carbon-free ammonia.
Ammonia production currently relies on fossil fuels, but green ammonia offers improved efficiency and reduced soil acidity.
Green hydrogen-powered farm machinery, such as tractors and harvesters, can reduce greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture.
Water ManagementGreen hydrogen can power desalination plants, converting saltwater into freshwater for sustainable water management.
Transport SectorHydrogen fuel cells in vehicles produce zero emissions and offer a longer range and faster refuelling compared to battery electric vehicles.
Industrial SectorGreen hydrogen production using excess renewable energy can reduce energy costs and promote sustainable development.
On-site production and storage make green hydrogen a reliable energy source, reducing dependence on the electricity grid.
Green hydrogen production from waste materials like municipal solid waste and agricultural waste can reduce waste and promote sustainability.
Using green hydrogen to power fuel cells increases energy efficiency compared to traditional combustion engines, reducing overall energy consumption.


Challenges in Green Hydrogen Production:

Not SufficientGreen hydrogen constitutes less than 1 per cent of the world’s hydrogen production and usage (as per the Global Hydrogen Review 2023 by the IEA)
Green hydrogen production needs to grow significantly to align with Net Zero Emissions goals.
Energy Inefficient30% of renewable energy is lost while producing hydrogen
Carbon EmissionsExisting methods involve fossil fuels with high carbon emissions.
Low AdoptionLow-emission hydrogen adoption in various sectors is slow.
Economic SustainabilityLow economic sustainability of extracting green hydrogen.
For transportation fuel cells, hydrogen must be cost-competitive with conventional fuels and technologies on a per-mile basis
Access to Critical MineralsAccess to critical minerals such as nickel, platinum group metals and rare earth metals could hinder scaling up electrolyser manufacturing capability in India
Safety IssuesGreen hydrogen is highly flammable, requiring specialized handling and storage. Establishing safety protocols and regulations is essential for ensuring its safe management.


Government Initiatives for Bio and Green Hydrogen:

InitiativeKey Points
Global Biofuel AllianceLeading efforts to establish global standards for hydrogen from biomass.
National Hydrogen MissionTargeting a production increase to 5 million metric tonnes (MMT) by 2030, meeting 40% of domestic requirements.
Production Linked Incentive (PLI) SchemeProposing a Rs 15,000-crore PLI scheme for electrolysers.
Green Hydrogen MissionDevelopment of Green Hydrogen Production Capacity of at least 5 MMT (Million Metric Tonne) per annum; Renewable energy capacity addition of about 125 GW in the country by 2030
Strategic Interventions for Green Hydrogen Transition (SIGHT): Funding domestic electrolyser manufacturing and green hydrogen production.
Green Hydrogen Hubs: Identifying and developing states/regions for large-scale hydrogen production/utilization.
Strategic Hydrogen Innovation Partnership (SHIP): Under this Public-private partnership framework R&D will be facilitated under the mission.
International CollaborationActively partnering with other countries, research institutions, and private entities for expertise and technology development.
Renewable Energy IntegrationIntegrating green hydrogen production with India’s expanding renewable energy capacity for improved efficiency and sustainability.


The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) (In collaboration with the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways) in India has launched a new pilot project for the production of Green Hydrogen with the following components:

  1. Funding Allocation: Rs 496 crore allocated until 2025-26.
  2. Pilot Project Support: Focus on testing green hydrogen as a vehicle fuel.
  3. Infrastructure Development: Establishment of hydrogen refuelling stations.
  4. Project Execution: Selected company or consortium as executing agency.
  5. Viability Gap Funding (VGF): Approval by MNRE based on project appraisal.
  6. Timeframe: Completion of pilot projects within two years.


To learn about Bio-hydrogen Click here

Way forward:

  1. Reduce Production Cost: Develop efficient technologies for electrolysis. Integrate green hydrogen production with renewable energy.
  2. Implement Regulatory Incentives: Offer tax credits and subsidies to promote adoption.
  3. Improve Infrastructure: Establish dedicated infrastructure and supply chains. Develop efficient and cost-effective supply chains.
  4. Coordinate Among Stakeholders: Ensure alignment of policies, standards, and regulations.
  5. Raise Awareness and Capacity: Educate potential users and producers about benefits. Demonstrate safety and feasibility in various sectors.
  6. Develop skills and competencies for production and utilization.


Insta Links:

India’s green hydrogen challenge


Mains Links:

 What are the key features of the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) initiated by the Government of India? (UPSC 2020)