Where To, H2?

A new study envisages what a hydrogen economy could look like for India

India’s energy sector will face two key challenges in the future. Firstly, there is the rising energy demand from a developing economy, whose priority remains bringing people out of poverty. For a country heavily dependent on fossil-fuel imports, there are high costs to meeting this demand. Secondly, India has set an ambitious target of becoming a net zero economy by 2070. These are strong climate commitments and require the entire energy sector to reduce its overall emissions and mitigate the effects of the global climate crisis.

A hydrogen economy (the potential large-scale use of hydrogen [H2] as a fuel in future energy systems) has been publicised as an enabler for addressing these challenges. Hydrogen has no emissions during usage and is a familiar fuel in industries. Until now, hydrogen could only be produced economically from fossil fuels. But the sharp reduction in the costs of renewables, such as solar and wind, has created a big opportunity for hydrogen production and use in recent years. Clean production is rapidly becoming more affordable and hydrogen is increasingly being looked at as a low-carbon alternative fuel for the future. This is being reinforced by the commitments of nations to tackle the climate crisis and air pollution.

A new CSTEP report examines the status of hydrogen technologies and envisages what a hydrogen economy could be like for India in the future. It also identifies sectors that could drive hydrogen demand in the future and estimates the amount of hydrogen which is likely to be produced in-situ or delivered from other production locations.

According to the study, an estimated 8 to 8.8 million tons of hydrogen demand is expected by 2030, which is expected to rise to 15 to 19 million tons by 2047. The study finds that though the demand from refineries and fertiliser sectors will continue to exist, hydrogen demand will primarily be driven by the growth of green hydrogen use in sectors, such as steel, heavy-duty freight, and blending in city-gas-distribution grids.

The study recommends hydrogen production from biomass residue near agrarian set ups and scaling up of electolyser manufacturing as measures to help India develop a domestic manufacturing market.

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