Green Hydrogen: Empowering India’s Journey Towards Energy Independence And Net Zero Emissions

  • Green Hydrogen: Empowering India’s Journey Towards Energy Independence And Net Zero Emissions

    “Sustainable and inclusive development has become a prevailing global agenda over the past few decades, garnering significant attention and dedication from nations across the world.” World Bank, 2018 (Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development) Sustainable and inclusive development has been the global goal for the past...

    “Sustainable and inclusive development has become a prevailing global agenda over the past few decades, garnering significant attention and dedication from nations across the world.”

    World Bank, 2018

    (Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development)

    Sustainable and inclusive development has been the global goal for the past few decades. Recent climatic conditions have emphasized on the need for the development to be eco-friendly and environment friendly. All countries, especially the third world countries like India, are trying to minimise their dependency on fossil fuels to have environmentally sound economic development.

    If the world has to meet its target of 1.50 above the pre-industrial level as decided in the Paris Agreement[1], by 196 countries at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Conference of the Parties (COP 21) in Paris, adopted on 12 December 2015, then recognising the need of green hydrogen is need of the hour. Even the recent UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP 26) in Glasgow emphasized the need for green fuels as this summit was touted as the last chance to save the planet.[2]

    Green hydrogen also seems to be that alternative which developing countries can take to reach their destined route of development without comprising its rich and diverse flora and fauna. It has a huge role to play in India’s path for achieving energy independence by 2047 and net zero emissions by 2070.[3] NITI Aayog in its report titled, ‘Harnessing Green Hydrogen, Opportunities for Deep Decarbonisation in India’, speaks in length about the manner in which green hydrogen would make India a self-sustained clean energy producer.

    The need to transition away from fossil fuels and embrace renewable energy sources has never been more pressing for the country than it is today. With its rapidly growing population, expanding economy, international commitments, majority of solutions to Indian problems lie in reducing carbon emissions and minimizing its ecological footprint. Thus, there is no doubt that green hydrogen has rightly captured the attention of policymakers, scientists, and industry leaders as a viable and promising alternative to traditional energy sources.

    The National Green Hydrogen Mission seems to provide a transformative solution for reshaping the entire Indian energy sector.[4] Approved by the cabinet on January 4, 2022, this mission aims at making India the leading producer and supplier of green hydrogen in the world. With its promising capabilities for revolutionizing various industrial working patterns and mitigating environmental challenges, green hydrogen is poised to play a crucial role in the country’s sustainable energy future. In fact, after announcing various missions and programs like National Green Hydrogen Mission,[5] Strategic Interventions for Green Hydrogen Transition Programme (SIGHT)[6] etc, India did organize an International Conference on Green Hydrogen at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi on July 5-7, 2023 for better collaboration between the various stakeholders[7].

    Green hydrogen is produced by electrolyzing water using renewable energy sources like solar power and wind. The process of electrolysis involves splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen using an electric current.[8] Thus, the hydrogen produced is referred to as ‘green hydrogen’ as it is produced using renewable energy sources. Unlike traditional hydrogen, production methods which rely heavily on fossil fuels, green hydrogen is generated without carbon emissions. Steam Methane Reforming (SMR) is the most popular method of producing hydrogen but releases a massive amount of CO2 gas in the atmosphere. Partial oxidation, coal gasification, biomass gasification are other methods which directly or indirectly add to carbon emission at large scale[9].

    As far as significance of the product is concerned, hydrogen and its derivatives, both low carbon and renewable, are recognised as key pillars in the energy transition for replacing fossil fuels and decarbonising sectors that cannot be feasibly electrified with the current technical know-how. Shipping, aviation and some industrial processes such as ammonia and steel production are considered to be “hard-to-decarbonise sectors”.[10] Hydrogen is already considered as a versatile energy carrier as it has significance in various sectors like transportation, industrial, electrical generation. The versatility of green hydrogen is a key driver behind its potential for revolutionizing these multiple sectors. It can be utilized in transportation as a zero-emission fuel for vehicles. This would have added benefits like long driving ranges and quicker refueling times. Green hydrogen can be used in all modes of transportation like railways, large ships, buses or trucks.

    Also, Industries can use it for clean and efficient manufacturing processes, as hydrogen serves as a crucial feed-stock for various chemical processes, including ammonia production, refineries, and steel manufacturing. Ammonia and fertilizers are used massively in India, by replacing fossil fuel-based feed-stocks, green hydrogen would present an excellent opportunity for immensely lowering carbon emissions. It would further motivate industries to adopt more environment-friendly practices. In power generation, green hydrogen can be used as a clean fuel in fuel cells or can be blended with natural gas for use in gas turbines. This would enable power plants to reduce their carbon emissions massively and would also enhance their overall efficiency. Hydrogen's capability for energy storage, grid balancing and backup power would further contribute to the integration of renewable energy sources and would further improve the overall energy system’s flexibility and productivity.

    With so many pros, no doubt there are some challenges as well in harnessing green hydrogen. One major obstacle is the high cost of the electrolyzers. To overcome this hurdle, recently, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Government of India, allocated a budget of over Rs 17,000 crore for providing incentives and support for manufacturing of electrolyzers and green hydrogen in the country. By assigning such a significant amount of funds, the government aims at encouraging and promoting the development and production of electrolyzers and green hydrogen technologies indigenously.

    These above-mentioned incentives would be in various forms, such as financial support, tax benefits, subsidies, as well as research and development grants. This would further attract investments, stimulate innovation, and accelerate the adoption of electrolyzers and green hydrogen technologies. These measures would not only help in the broader strategy of transitioning towards a more sustainable and low-carbon economy, but would also be in tandem with the nation’s Make in India (MII) initiative[11]. This budgetary allocation is also in line with the first phase of the Green Hydrogen Policy as part of the National Green Hydrogen Mission. All these initiatives and programs aim at catalyzing research and innovation, building infrastructure, and creating an enabling ecosystem for accelerating the adoption of green hydrogen in the country.

    International collaborations and exchange of knowledge would play a critical role in accelerating the development and adoption of green hydrogen in India. By learning from the experiences of leading countries and regions, India can leverage best practices, technological advancements and policy frameworks for expediting the growth of its green hydrogen industry. The Hydrogen Action Pact [2022] ,among the G7 countries would be a learning tool for India as well.[12] Although G7 countries like Canada and France rely heavily on renewable energy resources like hydro and nuclear, rests still use the non-renewable ones. So, investing on green hydrogen would be a win-win situation for all countries irrespective of their developed or developing status. [13]India already has the distinct advantage in terms of low-cost renewable electricity.[14]Collaborative efforts with global partners would enhance research and development and would foster a global community working towards a sustainable and hydrogen-powered future.

    Realizing the vision of harnessing the full potential of green hydrogen in India would require a collaborative, multi-stakeholder approach. Involvement of government (both at Union and state level), industry, academia, and research institutions would only bring the desired results. By working together, these stakeholders can drive innovation, address unsolvable challenges and create a facilitating environment for the widespread adoption of green hydrogen technologies in the country.

    The government plays a crucial role in providing policy support and regulatory frameworks that promote the development and deployment of green hydrogen. It should continue to formulate and implement policies like the National Green Hydrogen Policy 2022, which incentivize investments in green hydrogen projects. Measures such as feed-in tariffs, tax incentives, grants, and subsidies can also be incorporated for attracting private investments and stimulating research and development in green hydrogen technologies.

    Financial incentives are vital to encourage private sector participation and create a viable market for green hydrogen. Infrastructure development is a critical aspect of the green hydrogen ecosystem. As mentioned in the NITI Aarog’s report titled, ‘Green Hydrogen: Opportunities for Deep Decarbonization in India’, Indian government should invest in establishment of hydrogen production facilities, infrastructure storage and a distribution network which would ensure the availability and accessibility of green hydrogen. It also mentions development of electrolyzer manufacturing capabilities and the integration of hydrogen refueling stations into the existing fueling infrastructure. Product linked incentive (PLI) scheme to enable 25 GW of manufacturing capacity of electrolyzers by 2028 is step in same direction.[15] The report reiterates the Indian vision of reducing its carbon footprint and the goal of being carbon neutral by 2070.

    On the other hand, academic and research institutions play a vital role in advancing green hydrogen technologies through research, development, and knowledge sharing. Collaboration between academia and industry can drive innovation, reduce costs associated with green hydrogen, thus improving the efficiency of the entire system. The National Green Hydrogen Policy mentions the importance of this collaboration in unlocking 95 GW of electrolysis capacity in the nation by 2030.[16] Finally, creating awareness and building capacity among all involved stakeholders is essential for the successful adoption of green hydrogen. The government should invest in awareness campaigns, educational programs, skill development initiatives, and various other public outreach campaigns for promoting understanding and acceptance of green hydrogen technologies.

    Hence, as India marches towards energy independence and a net-zero future, green hydrogen stands as a game-changer, offering a clean and sustainable alternative energy solution. Its potential to decarbonize industries, enhance energy security, and create economic opportunities is unparalleled. By embracing green hydrogen and aligning policies, India can position itself as a global leader in clean energy innovation (which is also the vision of the Green Hydrogen Mission). It is necessary for all stakeholders to work together and accelerate the development and adoption of green hydrogen. Thus, paving the way for a greener, more prosperous, sustainable and inclusive India.

    Dr. Manish Yadav, Associate Professor at National Law Institute University, Bhopal. Dr. Sarvesh Kumar Shahi, Assistant Professor, KIIT School of Law, KIIT University, Bhubaneshwar. Views are personal.

    [1] The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change. Its overarching goal is to hold “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels” and pursue efforts “to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.” More at entered into force on,above pre-industrial levels.”



    [4] 4th January 2023,Green Hydrogen and its derivatives.

    [5] National Green Hydrogen Mission,Green Hydrogen and its derivatives



    [8] is a promising option,a unit called an electrolyzer.


    [10] p.9 certification to Enable Trade

    [11] The Make in India initiative was launched by Prime Minister in September 2014 as part of a wider set of nation-building initiatives. It was devised to transform India into a global design and manufacturing hub.

    [12] Jose M Bermudez, International Energy Agency ‘Hydrogen Energy System Overview’,

    [13] Pg 20 chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/

    [14]chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/ p.8

    [15] hydrogen can help abate 3.6 gigatons of cumulative CO2 emissions by 2050&text=A new report released today,India in the coming decades.

    [16] hydrogen can help abate 3.6 gigatons of cumulative CO2 emissions by 2050&text=A new report released today,India in the coming decades.

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