- Hydrogen is increasingly being viewed as a preferred fuel source for transport and storage
State-run Solar Energy Corp. of India (SECI) is looking to invite bids to build ‘green hydrogen’ plants, which will use renewable energy sources, two people aware of the development said. These plants will produce hydrogen gas by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using an electrolyzer that may be fed by wind power, solar power or hydropower.
Seen as a next-generation fuel, hydrogen is emission-free and has three times higher energy content per unit mass than petrol. It is increasingly being viewed as a preferred fuel source for transport and storage. Hydrogen is also produced in electrolysis using fossil fuels.
“Hydrogen is the cleanest source of energy. Work is going on and an expression of interest (EoI) will be floated first. Given the large clean energy programme we have, the plan is to set up these hydrogen production units by leveraging wind and solar power as hydrogen production is a very energy-intensive process,” a government official, one of the two people cited above, said on condition of anonymity.
India has been rapidly expanding clean energy capacity at low tariffs. Apart from reducing dependence on fossil fuels, these green hydrogen plants will also provide grid-scale storage solutions, resolving electricity transmission and evacuation-related problems for clean energy projects, and provide feedstock for ammonia production, the official added.
“Post covid-19, hydrogen has gained momentum and is given priority in the green recovery or sustainable energy plan in Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Spain and the US. The European Union recently issued a Hydrogen Strategy for a Climate-Neutral Europe. India should consider hydrogen more seriously and should have a green hydrogen strategy and road map on fast track,” said Reji Kumar Pillai, president, India Smart Grid Forum.
This assumes significance given that India has rapidly added clean energy capacity at low tariffs. Clean energy projects now account for more than a fifth of India’s installed power generation capacity. India now has 34.6GW of solar power and 38GW of wind power, and seeks to produce 100GW from solar projects and 60GW from wind power plants by March 2022.
Some experts say hydrogen is a technology worth investing in.
“Grid-scale power storage tech is still evolving and India needs to invest in diverse technologies till one of them emerges as a clear winner. Hydrogen is one such tech worth investing in. Hydrogen production is energy-intensive, so we must explore options of generating hydrogen through cheap solar-powered plants,” said Rajesh Ivaturi, partner, power and utilities at EY India.
Queries emailed to SECI and a spokesperson for the ministry of new and renewable energy on Friday remained unanswered
SECI’s move also comes amid India facing deteriorating air quality levels. Besides, solar and wind power are infirm sources of energy, with storage holding the key to providing on-demand electricity. “Hydrogen has many diverse uses—oil refining, steel production, transportation, etc. But perhaps the most interesting one for India is its usage for power storage,” said EY’s Ivaturi. “We need to also develop large power storage solutions to address the peaking demand.”