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By Andrew Tanner-Smith on 18/03/23

India's Recent Investment in Hydrogen: A Clean Energy Game-Changer?

India has recently announced a major investment in hydrogen as part of its plan to transition to clean energy. The country aims to become a global leader in hydrogen production and use, and has set ambitious targets for the development of a hydrogen economy.

Hydrogen promises much. It is, on the face of it, abundant in the extreme. Being the lightest and most abundant of all the elements. Great as far as it goes. Unfortunately however, it does not exist naturally on its own. Instead it is produced from a variety of sources, by far the biggest being its extraction from water via a process of electrolysis. Once the H2 has been extracted from the H2O it can be used in a wide range of applications, from fuel cells for transportation to industrial processes and power generation.

India's investment in hydrogen technology is a significant step forward in the country's efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and transition to a more sustainable energy future. The government has announced plans to build a national hydrogen mission that will focus on the development of hydrogen technologies and infrastructure.

One of the key objectives of the national hydrogen mission is to develop a roadmap for scaling up hydrogen production and use in India. This will involve identifying the most promising technologies and applications for hydrogen, as well as developing the necessary infrastructure and regulatory frameworks to support the growth of a hydrogen economy.

The government has also announced plans to launch pilot projects for the use of hydrogen in various sectors, including transportation and industry. These pilot projects will help to demonstrate the feasibility and potential of hydrogen as a clean energy source, as well as provide valuable data and insights for the development of larger-scale projects.

As ever, where government money leads, private sector money follows. Several major companies have announced plans to develop hydrogen technologies and infrastructure, including Tata Motors, Reliance Industries, and Indian Oil Corporation.

Tata Motors, for example, has announced its first customer order for its hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) in India due in 2024. The company aims to become a leader in the development of hydrogen-powered transportation in the country, and has partnered with Indian Oil Corporation to set up hydrogen refuelling stations across the country.

Reliance Industries, meanwhile, has announced plans to develop a green hydrogen plant in Jamnagar, Gujarat. The plant will use renewable energy to produce hydrogen, and will have a capacity of 100 MW. The company aims to use the green hydrogen produced at the plant to power its own operations, as well as provide a clean energy source for other industries.

Indian Oil Corporation, one of the country's largest oil and gas companies, has also announced plans to develop hydrogen infrastructure. The company aims to build a network of hydrogen refuelling stations across India, and has partnered with several companies to develop hydrogen technologies and applications.

India's investment in hydrogen is a major step forward in the country's efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and transition to a more sustainable energy future. The development of a hydrogen economy has the potential to create new jobs and industries, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality.

However, there are also challenges to the development of a hydrogen economy in India. One of the key challenges is the high cost of hydrogen production and infrastructure. The development of a hydrogen economy will require significant investment in research and development, as well as the construction of new infrastructure and the retrofitting of existing infrastructure.

Another challenge is the lack of a clear regulatory framework for hydrogen. The development of a hydrogen economy will require the development of new regulations and standards for the production, distribution, and use of hydrogen, as well as the establishment of safety protocols and guidelines.

Despite these challenges, India's big bet on hydrogen is a positive step forward for the technology. It is hoping that the high price of green hydrogen production will be offset by economies of scale and electrolysis technology over the coming years. History is peppered with examples tipping points in the lifecycle of a technology has seen large influxes of cash and subsequent relatively rapid technological innovation. Driving the development of a regulatory framework for hydrogen may take longer and require more than just an injection of money.