India launches National Hydrogen Mission
India has been trying to add hydrogen to its national decarbonisation strategy. Presenting the 2021-2022 Union Budget of India (1st February), Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharman announced launching a National Hydrogen Mission to produce green hydrogen. The government plans to produce green hydrogen by using the country vast renewable resources.
H2 Bulletin understands that this week announcement is a part of the PM Narendra Modi plan for hydrogen energy. In November 2020, while speaking at the 3rd Re-inVest Conference, Mr Modi announced to launch a comprehensive National Hydrogen Energy Mission.
In the fiscal budget, the government proposed an additional capital of INR 10 billion (US$ 137 million) for the Solar Energy Corporation of India and INR 15 billion (US$ 206 million) to Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency. However, there is no mention of a specific allocation for the newly launched mission.
The government has already done some groundwork by conducting various studies for its hydrogen roadmap in various capacities. Furthermore, last year the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) Ltd, the country largest power producer, invited expression of interest (EoI) for hydrogen-powered fuel cell buses and fuel cell cars.
Renewable energy, such as solar and wind, is an essential part of making green hydrogen. However, the government has raised the basic customs duty (BCD) on solar inverters from 5% to 20%, with an immediate effect. This will likely to increase the cost of solar panels. The government probably wants to support its domestic solar manufacturing industry. However, the budget provided custom duty exemption for all machinery, instruments, solar modules appliances, components, or auxiliary equipment to set up solar projects.
Dr Mishma Silvia Stanislaus, a Research Associate at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), told H2 Bulletin “With the recent budget announcement, India has officially joined the hydrogen-economy band-wagon, making hydrogen an unavoidable option if we are looking at solving the climate change crisis.”
India is not new to hydrogen energy and has been trying to integrate it for some time. “In the “National hydrogen Energy Roadmap -2006″ India had proposed to deploy 1 million hydrogen-powered IC engine and fuel cell vehicles on roads by 2020 but has fallen behind in achieving this goal. However, with the new budget in place exclusively for the hydrogen economy, India will soon join other nations in tapping the widely available resources for efficient hydrogen production and utilisation.” Miss Silvia noted.
She said that the budget would significantly contribute to the extensive work needed in areas of hydrogen production, storage, conversion, transportation and applications. We don’t have to re-invent the wheel as most of the technologies are already in place, but the process and materials need to be optimised to a great extent for energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Also, a clear understanding of some latest technologies and R&D in the domain of fuel cells is essential for the efficient utilisation of hydrogen energy.
She emphasised that India and related stakeholders need to work vigorously on safety, codes and standards for hydrogen production, storage, transportation, delivery, etc. as this is crucial in involving industries and other private organisations.
Miss Silvia further highlighted that with key players like Mahindra, Tata and Reliance coming together to work towards the ‘National Hydrogen Mission,’ it is important to develop further and strengthen partnerships between the public and private organisations with the proposed short and long-term plans. In addition, clusters or centre of excellence bringing together industries, academic institutions and government organisations is fundamental if India wants to compete in the hydrogen economy front.