Story

Beyond the Capital: How India’s States Are Shaping the Green Hydrogen Landscape

By Shalin Sheth

 

Renewable energy forms the foundation of Green Hydrogen production. Without it, hydrogen would continue to be derived from fossil fuels, negating the benefits of this clean energy solution. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) in India has established emissions thresholds to define hydrogen produced from renewable sources as ‘Green Hydrogen.’ This type of hydrogen is produced using renewable energy through methods like electrolysis or biomass conversion, and also includes electricity sourced from renewable energies, either stored in energy systems or credited through the grid.

 

India’s National Green Hydrogen Mission

 

India’s National Green Hydrogen Mission outlines ambitious targets to produce 5 million metric tonnes of Green Hydrogen annually by 2030, supported by an estimated 125 GW of renewable energy, aligning with its broader objective to achieve 500 GW of total renewable capacity by the same year. Over the past nine years, India has seen a 396% increase in its renewable capacity, driven by various projects and initiatives like the Solar Energy Corporation of India’s expansion in solar power, including concentrated solar power. Ranking fourth globally in renewable and wind power capacities and fifth in solar power, India’s renewable sources reached 190.57 GW by March 2024, with a 9.83% growth in 2022 alone. The Union Cabinet has committed INR 19,744 crore to the mission, aiming to reduce carbon intensity by 45% by 2030, achieve 50% of its energy from renewables, and cut carbon emissions by one billion tonnes from 2023 to 2030. The plan is set to create over six lakh jobs, reduce fossil fuel imports by over INR one lakh crore, and significantly decrease greenhouse gas emissions, affirming India’s commitment to a clean energy future.

 

Strategic Phased Rollout of Green Hydrogen Mission

 

The phased approach of the mission to deploy Green Hydrogen is strategically designed to catalyze an industry-wide transition. In the initial phase, from 2022 to 2025, the mission targets sectors already familiar with hydrogen usage, focusing on ramping up domestic electrolyzer manufacturing and introducing incentives for indigenizing the Green Hydrogen value chain. This phase prioritizes applications in refineries, fertilizers, and city gas sectors to boost demand and support burgeoning investments in Green Hydrogen production. Pilot projects in steel production, long-haul mobility, and shipping, along with the establishment of regulatory frameworks, will lay the groundwork for subsequent phases.

The second phase, running from 2026 to 2029, aims to capitalize on the anticipated cost competitiveness of Green Hydrogen with fossil fuels in key industries. This period will likely see an expansion of Green Hydrogen use in the steel, mobility, and shipping sectors based on market dynamics and evolving cost structures. Further pilot initiatives could extend into railways and aviation, with a significant scale-up in R&D to foster innovation and deepen decarbonization efforts across the economy.

India’s Hydrogen Investment

 

India is investing heavily in hydrogen to enhance energy security, reduce emissions, balance economic dependencies, and optimize energy subsidies. The global pandemic highlighted the need for diversified energy sources as fluctuations in oil and gas markets affected supply chains and fuel prices, prompting India to seek alternatives to strengthen its national energy strategy. As the world’s third-largest CO2 emitter, India aims to cut its emissions intensity by 45% by 2030, up from the previous 33-35% target under the Paris Agreement. Being the third-largest importer of crude oil and heavily dependent on imports for natural gas and coal, India’s energy imports significantly impact its financial balance, with oil import bills reaching around US$111.9 billion and US$101.4 billion in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Furthermore, India allocates approximately US$30 billion annually to energy subsidies. Redirecting some of these funds could support the development of a hydrogen ecosystem, allowing India to leverage the entire hydrogen value chain and consider global export opportunities.

 

State-Level Green Hydrogen Policies

 

Various Indian states have introduced their own Green Hydrogen policies to support the national mission, each with unique goals and incentives.

 

  • Gujarat

 

Gujarat is positioning itself as a leader in the Green Hydrogen sector with significant investments and strategic policies. The state’s ambitious goal to contribute 1 million tonnes of Green Hydrogen by 2030 aligns with the national target of 5 million tonnes. This initiative was prominently featured at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit 2024, where the importance of hydrogen in achieving net carbon zero was underscored. The state has embarked on increasing its solar capacity to 211 GW to support this mission. Gujarat is also leveraging its strategic geographic advantages and robust industrial ecosystem to attract massive investments, which are expected to revolutionize its energy sector and significantly reduce carbon emissions​. Gujarat has also implemented a comprehensive land allotment policy to foster Green Hydrogen projects. This policy incentivizes investments by offering several benefits, including a commitment to meeting 50% of the Green Hydrogen production capacity within five years and achieving 100% within eight years.

 

●      Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand is making significant strides in the Green Hydrogen sector through pioneering pilot projects spearheaded by THDC India Limited. The state has launched India’s largest electrolyser and fuel cell-based Green Hydrogen project in Rishikesh. This project aims to produce 50 kilograms of Green Hydrogen daily using a 1-megawatt rooftop solar plant. The generated Green Hydrogen is stored and utilized during nighttime to power a 70-kW proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell, which illuminates the THDC office complex. This initiative not only demonstrates the technical feasibility of Green Hydrogen but also sets a precedent for other states by integrating renewable energy sources directly into practical applications​

  • Madhya Pradesh

 

Madhya Pradesh is emerging as a significant player in the Green Hydrogen sector in India, with several major projects underway that aim to boost the state’s Green Hydrogen production capacity. The state is home to GAIL’s first Green Hydrogen plant at Vijaipur, which has a capacity to produce 4.3 tonnes of Green Hydrogen per day. This facility is notable for its high-purity hydrogen production, which is primarily intended for blending with natural gas for internal consumption, with future plans to expand to external markets​. Additionally, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) is planning to establish what will be India’s largest Green Hydrogen plant in Bina, Madhya Pradesh. This facility will feature a 20 MW electrolyser and is part of BPCL’s broader strategy to achieve net-zero emissions by 2040. The project highlights BPCL’s commitment to increasing its renewable energy sources to meet all its energy requirements in the coming years​.

 

  • Odisha

 

Odisha’s integrated Renewable Energy policy, which encompasses Green Hydrogen and its derivatives, provides various incentives under the Industrial Policy Resolution (IPR) 2022. It targets green energy sectors, particularly Green Hydrogen and Ammonia production, with benefits like a 100% electricity duty exemption for 20 years, and reimbursement of cross-subsidy surcharges. Additionally, it offers Rs. 3 per unit reimbursement for renewable energy purchased from local distributors for 20 years, a 30% capital subsidy on plant and machinery, and land at 50% concessional rates. Innovations and R&D receive up to ₹10 Crore with a 50% incentive, alongside a full incentive for employee ESI and EPF contributions for seven years. The Renewable Energy Policy 2022 supports these initiatives with additional benefits, including reduced wheeling charges and stamp duty exemptions, fostering a robust environment for Green Hydrogen production in Odisha.

 

Conclusion

India’s Green Hydrogen initiative marks a pivotal advancement towards achieving energy self-sufficiency and environmental sustainability. Bolstered by robust backing from national and regional authorities, India is on track to emerge as a global frontrunner in the production of Green Hydrogen. The ambitious goals set, along with favorable policies and significant incentives, are expected to propel the development of this eco-friendly energy sector. This will not only align with India’s climate objectives but also enhance its economic stability. As these strategies are implemented, India’s dedication to a sustainable and energy-secure future becomes increasingly apparent.

 

(The author is Shalin Sheth, Founder & Managing Director, Advait Infratech Limited, and the views expressed in this article are his own)