India - A Promising opportunity to become hydrogen hub: P. D. Samudra, Former CEO & MD, Thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions (India)
Opinion

India - A Promising opportunity to become hydrogen hub: P. D. Samudra, Former CEO & MD, Thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions (India)

The” Green Hydrogen” is expected to revolutionise energy and feedstock sources for several applications including oil refining processes, production of fertilizers, Ammonia and Methanol as fuel, steel plants, transportation sector, injections in natural gas pipelines grid, synthetic fuels, buildings, etc.

  • By P. D. Samudra , Former CEO & MD, Thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions (India) | September 16, 2022

The growth of renewables and renewable powered Hydrogen production has created global momentum for” Green Hydrogen” as a clean fuel, as well as energy storage option. More than 95 percent of world Hydrogen (which is approximately 90 MMTPA) is produced from fossil fuels via Steam Methane Reforming Process (SMR) or via Coal Gasification Route (CGR). Such production of the Grey Hydrogen leads to emission of CO2 in the range of 10 Kgs/Kg of Hydrogen in the SMR process or 5 Kgs/Kg in the Coal Gasification Route, which has been the cause of great concern from an environ[1]mental point of view.

Hydrogen has been around for a long time but most of the Hydrogen produced is so called Grey Hydrogen, i.e. Hydrogen produced from fossil fuels like natural gas or coal. Green Hydrogen production uses a carbon free source of energy in the form of electricity such as solar or wind, for the electrolysis of water for production of Hydrogen, resulting in minimal net emissions.

There is increased consensus around the world that concerted steps need to be taken to reduce global warming specially caused due to use of fossil fuels, to the levels less than 2 degree celsius and if possible, to cap it at 1.5 degree celsius, higher than pre-industrial levels.

During the United Nation Climate Change Conference (COP 26) at Glasgow, more than 30 countries and the European Union pledged their nationally determined contribution in order to ensure energy transition in phases and thereby reduce emissions. Many large economies including India have com[1]mitted to the “Net Zero” targets, within the next 3 to 5 decades.

The” Green Hydrogen” is expected to revolutionise the energy and feedstock sources for several applications including oil refining processes, production of fertilizers, Ammonia and Methanol as fuel, steel plants, transportation sector, injections in natural gas pipelines grid, synthetic fuels, buildings, etc.

The existing worldwide production of over 90 MMTPA is expected to increase by more than double to around 200 MMTPA by 2030, mainly using renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power for the electrolysis process for production of Green Hydrogen.

Presently, India is one of the large consumers of Hydrogen with approximately 7 percent of world’s capacity i.e. approximately 7 MMTPA is produced mainly from fossil fuels like natural gas. On 17th February, 2022, the Government of India published Green Hydrogen Policy to boost up domestic production of Green Hydrogen to 5 MMTPA by 2030; thus paving a way to make India march towards net zero and creating potential for exports.

Economical production of “Green Hydro[1]gen” in comparison to conventional “Grey Hydrogen” is presently the challenge mainly due to high capital costs of the electrolysers which contain components made from exotic materials.

Leading Indian companies are putting in large efforts to improve upon the local supply chain to reduce Capex. The costs of energy inputs like solar power are expected to re[1]duce further as huge capacities are being set up. In the near future, the target is to reach the price of Green Hydrogen to the levels of US $2 - US $2.5 per Kg.

A large number of Indian public and private sector companies have started preparing for such a change over to Green Hydrogen and are in process of making tie ups with BOO (Build, Own, and Operate) operators and technology suppliers.

STATUS OF RENEWABLE ENERGY IN INDIA

Renewable energy being the main source for production of Green Hydrogen via electrolysis of water, it is very important to understand the steps already taken by India in terms of availability of renewable energy.

As per Government's National Electricity Plans, the installed capacity for electric power generation of 393 GW as of 31st December, 2021 is expected to undergo quantum jump to the level of 832 GW by end of the year 2030. Remarkably, the share of renew[1]able sources based electric power (mainly solar and wind) will increase from present 18 percent to 44 percent, thus providing a huge capacity of renewables based energy to the tune of 400 GW, mainly coming from solar and wind power. Therefore, with such continued increase in renewable energy, India will be certainly poised within a decade not only to cater to internal demands of Green Hydro[1]gen but also venture to export in a big way.

EXPORT POSSIBILITIES AND OPTIONS FOR TRANSPORT

Several small and medium size countries would be interested in importing Green Hydrogen from India to meet their energy transition plans. For exports, the ideal way would be to transport green Hydrogen using the sea route. The modes of transporting the energy as Green Hydrogen would be ideally in the form of liquid Hydrogen; or by converting it to Ammonia and transporting as liquid Ammonia or conversion to Methanol and transport it in liquid form.

The first ship in the world designed to carry 8,000 MT of liquid Hydrogen has been manufactured in Japan. It made its maiden trip between Japan and Australia carrying back cargo of liquid Hydrogen, just a few months ago.

The transportation costs of liquified Hydrogen (at minus 253 degree Celsius) is rather expensive compared to Ammonia (at minus 33 degree Celsius) or Methanol (at ambient temperatures).

By the way, presently worldwide approximately 20 MMTPA of liquified Ammonia is transported by using specially designed cryogenic sea vessels with refrigeration facilities. India itself imports approximately 3 MMTPA of liquified Ammonia for downstream production of Phosphatic fertilisers.

India has installed over 40 large size liquid Ammonia Cryogenic storage tanks at many coastal locations to receive, store, and transfer liquid Ammonia.

It is a very common practice world over. The Green Ammonia thus despatched to the other country can be further chemically cracked to get Green Hydrogen back and use the same as fuel; or the Green ammonia can be directly used as fuel.

Methanol has been regularly transported via ships in huge quantities and as such can be used directly as fuel. There is certainly a very good potential for India to explore and plan export of green Hydrogen in various forms as described above. The technical feasibility has been established. Government may consider facilitating coastal based Export Zones as “Green Hydrogen Parks”.

There are new exciting environment friendly opportunities emerging for India to become a Green Hydrogen hub which could lead to changes in old concepts of producing energy for our own usage with a good potential for its export in the near future.

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