Green hydrogen, a new ally for a zero carbon future (GS-3, Science and Technology)

Context:- Fossil fuels which are responsible for the production of over 830 million tons per annum of carbon dioxide which are catalysing  human induced global heating and to subside this Scientists and  technocrats have for years been engaged in the quest of discovering alternative fuels. The latest studies by a battery of scientists representing about 195 countries have signalled the crucial issue of climate vulnerability,  especially for the Asian countries. The forthcoming 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow from November 1­1, 2021 is to reexamine the coordinated action plans to mitigate greenhouse gases and climate adaptation measures.

Why Hydrogen is important:-

    • Hydrogen is the most abundant element on the planet, but rarely in its pure form which is how we need it. 
    • It has an energy density almost three times that of  diesel. This phenomenon makes it a rich source of energy
  • What is the challenge:-

    • Challenge is to compress or liquify the LH2 (liquid hydrogen); it needs to be kept at a stable minus 253° C (far below the temperature of minus 163° C at which Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) is stored which is entailing its ‘prior to use exorbitant cost’.
  • The production techniques of Hydrogen vary depending upon its applications designated with different colours such as:-
    • Black hydrogen
    • Brown hydrogen
    • Blue hydrogen, green hydrogen, etc. 
  • Black hydrogen is produced by use of fossil fuel, whereas pink hydrogen is produced through electrolysis, but using energy from nuclear power sources.

What is Green hydrogen?:-

  • Green hydrogen is a zero carbon fuel made by electrolysis using renewable power from wind and solar to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. 
  • This ‘Green hydrogen’ can be utilised for the generation of power from natural sources  wind or solar systems and will be a major step forward in achieving the target of ‘net zero’ emission. Presently, less than 0.1% or say ~75 million tons/year of hydrogen capable of generating ~284GW of power, is produced.

What is the issue in the Green Hydrogen:- 

  • Economic Sustainability is one of the biggest challenges faced by the industry for using hydrogen or green hydrogen commercially.
  • For transportation fuel cells, hydrogen must be cost-competitive with conventional fuels and technologies on a per-mile basis.
  • High Costs and Lack of Supporting Infrastructure for green hydrogen production
  • Fuel cells which convert hydrogen fuel to usable energy for cars are very expensive.
  • The hydrogen station infrastructure is widely underdeveloped.

A power hungry India:-

  • India is the world’s fourth largest energy consuming country just behind China, the United States and the European Union
  • According to the IEA’s forecast, India will  overtake the European Union to become the world’s third energy consumer by the year 2030.

What India is doing or done?

  • India is also gradually unveiling its plans. 
  • The Indian Railways have announced the country’s first experiment of a  hydrogen fuel cell technology based train by retrofitting an existing diesel engine
    • This will run under Northern Railway on the 89 km stretch between Sonepat and Jind.
  • The Union Budget for 2021-22 has announced a National Hydrogen Energy Mission (NHM) that will draw up a road map for using hydrogen as an energy source.
  • Indian Initiatives for Renewable Energy:
    • Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM).
    • International Solar Alliance.
    • PM- KUSUM.
    • National Wind-Solar Hybrid Policy.
    • Rooftop Solar Scheme.

Way forward:-

  • It is high time to catch up with the rest of the world by going in for clean energy,  decarbonising the economy and adopting ‘Green hydrogen’ as an environment friendly and safe fuel for the next generations.
  • Implement complementary and sustainable solutions that create virtuous cycles.
  • Decentralised hydrogen production must be promoted through open access of renewable power to an electrolyser.
  • Policymakers must facilitate investments in research and development needed to advance the technology for use in India.

Source:- The Hindu, PIB

Plutus IAS Daily Current Affairs 09th September 2021

Swarn Singh

Plutus IAS Current Affair Team

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