Make Hydrogen in India

GS3: Energy Sources


  • The author talks about the need for making green hydrogen a priority in India

Editorial Insights:

What’s the matter?

  • Across the global arena, there is now increasing realization that to meet Paris’s target of limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C, the countries need to shift the focus to more difficult options like Green Hydrogen.

Hydrogen: Green Hydrogen:

  • Hydrogen is a clean fuel. It is an energy carrier that can be used for a broad range of applications. Also, it could serve as a possible substitute for liquid and fossil fuels.
  • At standard temperature and pressure, hydrogen is a nontoxic, nonmetallic, odorless, tasteless, colorless, and highly combustible diatomic gas with the molecular formula H2.
  • Hydrogen is one of the most abundant elements on earth for a cleaner alternative fuel option.
  • Type of hydrogen depends upon the process of its formation:
    • Green hydrogen is produced by the electrolysis of water using renewable energy (like Solar, Wind) and has a lower carbon footprint.
      • The electricity splits water into hydrogen and oxygen releasing water & water vapor as byproducts.
    • Brown hydrogen is produced using coal where the emissions are released into the air.
    • Grey hydrogen is produced from natural gas where the associated emissions are released into the air.
    • Blue hydrogen is produced from natural gas, where the emissions are captured using carbon capture and storage.

Advantages of Hydrogen as fuel/energy:

  • It is readily available:
    • It is a basic earth element and is very abundant. However, its time consuming to separate hydrogen gas from its companion substances. While that may be the case, the results produce a powerful clean energy source.
  • It doesn’t produce harmful emissions:
    • When it is burned, it doesn’t emit harmful substances. It reacts with oxygen without burning and the energy it releases can be used to generate electricity used to drive an electric motor. Also, it doesn’t generate carbon dioxide when burnt, not unlike other power sources.
  • It is environmentally friendly:
    • It is a non-toxic substance that is rare for a fuel source. Others such as nuclear energy, coal, and gasoline are either toxic or found in places that have hazardous environments. Because hydrogen is friendly towards the environment, it can be used in ways that other fuels can’t even possibly match.
  • It can be used as fuel in rockets:
    • It is both powerful and efficient to provide power for powerful machines such as spaceships. Also, given that it is environmentally friendly, it is a much safer choice compared to other fuel sources.
  • It is fuel-efficient:
    • Compared to diesel or gas, it is much more fuel-efficient as it can produce more energy per pound of fuel.
    • Hydrogen-powered fuel cells have two or three times the efficiency of traditional combustion technologies. For example, a conventional combustion-based power plant usually generates electricity between 33 to 35 percent efficiency. Hydrogen fuel cells are capable of generating electricity of up to 65 percent efficiency.
  • It is renewable:
    • It can be produced again and again, unlike other non-renewable sources of energy. This means that with hydrogen, you get a limited fuel source. Hydrogen energy can be produced on demand.

Disadvantages of Hydrogen:

  • It is expensive:
    • While widely available, it is expensive. A good reason for this is that it takes a lot of time to separate the element from others. If the process were really simple, then a lot would have been doing it with relative ease, but it’s not. Although hydrogen cells are now being used to power hybrid cars, it’s still not a feasible source of fuel for everyone. Until technology is developed that can make the whole process a lot more simpler, then hydrogen energy will continue to be an expensive option.
  • It is difficult to store:
    • Hydrogen is very hard to move around. When speaking about oil, that element can be sent through pipelines. When discussing coal, that can be easily carried off on the back of trucks. When talking about hydrogen, just moving even small amounts is a very expensive matter. For that reason alone, the transport and storage of such a substance are deemed impractical.
  • It is not easy to replace existing infrastructure:
    • Gasoline is still being widely used to this day. And as of the moment, there just isn’t any infrastructure that can support hydrogen as fuel. This is why it becomes highly expensive to just think about replacing gasoline. Also, cars need to be refitted to accommodate hydrogen as fuel.
  • It is highly flammable :
    • Since it is a very powerful source of fuel, hydrogen can be very flammable. It is on the news frequently for its many numbers of risks. Hydrogen gas burns in air at very wide concentrations – between 4 and 75 percent.
  • It is dependent on fossil fuels:
    • Although hydrogen energy is renewable and has a minimal environmental impact, other non-renewable sources such as coal, oil, and natural gas are needed to separate it from oxygen. While the point of switching to hydrogen is to get rid of using fossil fuels, they are still needed to produce hydrogen fuel.

Benefits of Green Hydrogen to India:

  • It will drive India’s transition to clean energy, combat climate change.
  • Under the Paris Climate Agreement, India pledged to reduce the emission intensity of its economy by 33-35% from 2005 levels by 2030.
  • It will reduce import dependency on fossil fuels.
  • The localization of electrolyzer production and the development of green hydrogen projects can create a new green technologies market in India worth $18-20 billion and thousands of jobs.

Challenges for India in this regard:

  • Converting electricity to hydrogen, shipping, storing it & then converting back to the electricity needs huge amounts of electricity from renewable energy which in turn put pressure on land.
  • Transporting a very high energy content gas like Hydrogen needs huge containers & require a lot of energy.
  • Though hydrogen can be used in various sectors, there are limitations on certain sectors.
    • For instance, use in transport & power is restricted since it has to compete with batteries.
  • Highly expensive & need huge investment.
  • It is not economically viable for most countries to produce green hydrogen domestically.


  • India needs to draw up a effective & robust road map for green hydrogen.
  • It needs to make huge investments in R&D to lower the cost of electrolyzers & make India a manufacturing hub.
  • Further, India needs to incentivize the private sector to move towards green hydrogen.
  • The most important thing is to lay down standards for large-scale use of hydrogen along with framing safety regulations.

Concluding Remarks:

India has the advantage of producing cheap electricity from renewable energy sources & India should use the current opportunity to become a hydrogen exporter in the future.


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