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Hydrogen Needs Strong Public-Private Support With Policies In Place

In the field of solar PV deployment, India is witnessing progress with the public and private partnerships, and policy support, which will be required for hydrogen as well. It is according to a recent report by the Department of Science and Technology.

According to the India Status Report on Hydrogen and Fuel Cells, hydrogen is a non-polluting, efficient and clean energy carrier, with the capacity to reduce India’s dependence on oil and gas import. It is present in abundance and has the potential to get produced from a wide array of locally available primary and secondary energy sources by an appropriate production route.

Moreover, hydrogen can be utilized for small, large and short to long term storage for meeting the seasonal or everyday demand imbalance with renewables deployment.

As per the report, the clean hydrogen technologies are available in India, but there is challenge of scaling it up with reduced cost, increased adoption and appropriate growth of hydrogen based technologies.

Presently, hydrogen is at the primary stage of penetration in the energy sector.

The report states that hydrogen introduction in the existing and proven set of applications alongside a highly diverse set of energy sources of its production and then sliding towards green hydrogen or introducing it to a new set of applications. This transition pathways use existing infrastructure and skills like blended natural gas with hydrogen, which is economically feasible and can be adapted easily.

“In the short term, hydrogen can be introduced in various sectors with technologies deployed irrespective of whether it is blue, green or grey hydrogen. In the inter-intermediate term, the blending of gas with hydrogen could be a possible method to reduce emissions. Simultaneously, making hydrogen a part of a large-scale distribution network, increased green hydrogen usage should be introduced. In the long term, the entire hydrogen value chain should be completely emission free,” stated the report.

In between, the government requires to form a long-term policy framework which will build the confidence in private investment, arise market demand alongside policy interventions, developing standards and regulations for hurdling the growth and provide augmented R&D support.

According to the report, hydrogen in India is either produced as a byproduct of refinery processes or chlor-alkali plants. It is also produced through electrolysis for commercial use in limitation.

In 2013-2014, there were almost 40 Chlor-alkali units which produced 66,000 tonnes of byproduct hydrogen, from which 6600 tonnes was not utilized.

The report states that hydrogen demand will increase significantly in the end-user industry, where stringent environment regulations will cause demand increase both for transport and power generation sectors.

For research purpose, a large number of government and private funding agencies in India support the R&D projects on different aspects of hydrogen economy, which includes hydrogen production, storage and utilization for stationary, power generation and transport applications through IC engines or fuel cell technologies.

DST support Hydrogen and Fuel Cell programme is developing transformational technologies which will reduce hydrogen production cost, distribution and storage, yet provide diverse feedstock available for economic hydrogen production and enhancement of the power grid’s flexibility and reduction of emissions by novel use of low-cost hydrogen. It has supported 30 research projects.

The greener methods of hydrogen production with electrolysis through chemical or photo-electrochemical routes are explored at the moment where research is conducted in from materials to system level.

During this, the DST activities are entirely focused on more efficient reforming processes and development of newer membranes, and improvement of the efficiency of water splitting reaction. With this, the development of cost-efficient and earth-abundant catalyst for photo-electrochemical water splitting, newer materials, catalysts and electrodes for accelerating the reaction and sorption-enhanced reformation for improvement of hydrogen production from biogas is also going on.

For this, considerable success is achieved in technology development, like, alkaline water electrolysis, technology from Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai is available for commercialization.

BARC is also conducting extensive research for other hydrogen production technologies like hybrid-sulphur process, Cu-Cl process, and proton-exchange-membrane (PEM) based water electrolysis.

CSIR-CECRI (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research – Central Electro Chemical Research Institute) Karaikudi has explored the design of electrodes and electrolytes for generation of hydrogen through seawater and it reduced the utilization of catalyst Titania.

OEC (ONGC Energy Centre) is conducting investigation for thermochemical water splitting for large-scale hydrogen generation.

There is a multi-institutional research project, which is supported by the Technology Systems Development Program of DST New Delhi, which is aimed at developing scalable solar hydrogen generation systems through multiple technologies. This project includes the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur, IIT Madras, Dayalbagh Educational Institute Agra, IIT Jodhpur, CECRI, Karaikudi, and BARC Mumbai.

The Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources is supporting the end-use applications for demonstration projects through Indian Oil Corporation and Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.