India's Policy for Hydrogen as Future Energy
| Anoop Chaturvedi, Renewable Energy Professional, Chandigarh - 05 Jul 2021

At a time of the current energy crisis, environment degradation and the pressure of climate changes, which has obligated the world economies to explore cleaner fuel options such as hydrogen, which is globally acknowledged as a cost-efficient and effective alternative and a solution to these issues, there seems to be a lack of aggression by the Government of India. No policy framework and safety standard guidelines are in existence in India, claims Anoop Chaturvedi, a well known Renewable Energy Professional based at Chandigarh.

“We see hydrogen as the future energy.” Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas & Steel Shri Dharmendra Pradhan had said during a function on 18 FEB 2021 in Delhi. Speaking on the occasion, Shri Pradhan talked about the importance; Government of India is giving to exploration of new and emerging forms of energy. About India’s energy consumption, he said that India is the third-largest energy consumer with growing energy demand, making it the place to be, for any energy entrepreneur in any part of the globe. He called for greater synergy between science, technology and entrepreneurship to create win-win for all. Speaking at the 3rd Global Renewable Energy Investment Meeting and Expo in November 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had highlighted the importance of niche renewable technologies like hydrogen in the renewable energy mix. Pursuant to that, launch of the National Hydrogen Energy Mission was announced in the budget 2021-22. A pilot project for blending hydrogen with compressed natural gas for use as transportation fuel is running at Rajghat Bus depot in Delhi. Under this pilot, 50 buses in Delhi are plying on blended Hydrogen in Compressed Natural Gas and results are extremely encouraging. But still, European Union, the US, Japan, and China have taken the lead in establishing many fuel stations across their nations.

Hydrogen is the Fuel of the future, environment friendly, and safest fuel. Hydrogen is the lightest of all elements. It is colorless, odorless, tasteless, its flame is invisible. This is the fuel that can reduce carbon emissions drastically. There are many methods of its production and Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) is one of the electrolysis methods.

Hydrogen Filling Stations The various components of the hydrogen filling station are Liquid Tank, Medium Pressure Storage Unit, 5 stages Ionic Compressors, Separator, Cooling Unit, High-Pressure Storage Bank, and Cryogenic Pump. The ionic liquid is separated through a separator and hydrogen is stored in high-pressure vessels. Instrumentation, Automation, and Cryogenic technology are the most important features in any Hydrogen fuel station. It takes 3-5 minutes in refueling any vehicle and several vehicles in a row refueling is possible.

Hydrogen Storage Liquid Hydrogen is stored at minus 253 degree C or minus 423 degrees F at 1000 bars and its volume is reduced to 850 times in comparison to gaseous form. It is stored in Stainless Steel double vacuum jacketed within tanks/ cylinders wrapped with Carbon Fiber.  

Hydrogen Pilot Projects in India There are many Hydrogen pilots projects are functioning in different portions of India. A few in IIT New Delhi, Bengaluru, IT- BHU Varanasi, and many other projects at different places in India. Tata has already manufactured 15 Hydrogen fuel-based conventional buses. Running these buses to the Indian road is an uphill task as none of the hydrogen refueling established by the Government of India so far. The government of India should come forward and facilitate such endeavors projects. 

Hydrogen to cut off pollution level drastically The main feature of Hydrogen established fuel stations are, it reduces carbon footprints like anything. One may surprisingly discover water as an exhaust in the case of Hydrogen automobiles. The government of India is to come up fast and furnish free-of-cost land to establish Hydrogen manufacturer units. It will be the biggest contribution to save the plant.

Above all people of New Delhi, India who reside with a lot of complications and not able to get fresh air. Such initiatives from the Government of India are to give relaxation to the mass population of New Delhi and many other most pollutant cities of India. Pollution is a big challenge and many major cities of India and Hydrogen will be the game changer equipment for its solution.

As per assumption, by 2030, the aviation sector will completely make the shift to hydrogen fuel altogether. Shipping and transportation are the other segments to contribute considerably to curb carbon emissions drastically. The transportation sector will make a bunch of differences when start using hydrogen.

Most importantly, Hydrogen is maintaining the upper hand in comparison to Electric vehicles (EV). Specific Energy of hydrogen is much higher than Electrical Vehicle. For the same run of 500-600 kilometers, the cost of hydrogen fuel is much cheaper than Electrical Vehicles. The main feature of hydrogen, it takes only 3 minutes for its refueling whereas Electrical Vehicle battery charging takes at least 12 hours.

Other nations taking the lead European Union, the US, Japan, and China have taken the lead in establishing many fuel stations across their nations. These Nations have developed state-of-the-art Hydrogen Refueling Infrastructure and moving ahead and maintaining the lead in this sector. Hydrogen applications are getting momentum every passing day. Europe and the USA are maintaining the lead. With the time technology is versatilely available, its cost will come down.

Participation by the private sector players Reliance Industries Ltd. is to set up the largest hydrogen plant in India. Chhattisgarh state is taking the lead to establish a methanol-based hydrogen fuel plant. India's hydrogen sector to pick up momentum, when top industrial houses like Ratan Tata, Mukesh Ambani, and Anand Mahindra come together to retaining the biggest plans to provide hydrogen fuel to India. India's hydrogen fuel program is to pick up momentum after the active participation by the private sector players.

Policy paralysis and lack of safety guidelines framework in India 

There is a lack of aggression by the Government of India. No policy framework and safety standard guidelines are in existence in India. These safety guidelines are to play an important role as hydrogen is the coldest material available on the earth and minus temperatures are more dangerous, if pipelines carrying hydrogen is touched without wearing safety gloves, there is deep penetration on the skin. Low-temperature burns are more dangerous than high-temperature burns.

Always avoid entering a Hydrogen concentrated area ranging from 4-75%.  Pipelines are under tremendous pressure and hence safety relief valves/ Shut off valves are a must. All safety guidelines are to be strictly followed like safety boots, long sleeve fire retarding clothes, Eye/Face protection, Insulated Hand Gloves, and personal protective equipment. Electric and Grounding is a must at the time of Loading/ Unloading any Hydrogen Tanker. It easily catches fire at a very low-energy Ignition point.

Training and Orientation Program to Hydrogen Expert 

Government of India is to nominate hydrogen experts to visit different nations for technical understanding and safety guidelines policy framework purpose. It will help hydrogen experts to adapt the best possible industry practices and orientation to various kinds of technology as well.

Hydrogen and its application Hydrogen's main applications are as a Fuel used in satellite launching, Industrial sector, Food Processing, Fertilizers, Healthcare. In the coming time, its main application would be in the Aviation sector, Shipping, and transportation.  

Representational Images – Minister of Power and New & Renewable Energy RK Singh – Image Courtesy

Twitter Image - WRI India

Anoop Chaturvedi, Renewable Energy Professional, Chandigarh

Having more than 25 years of experience in Engineering, HVAC, Telecom, Power Generation and Solar Energy; A certified Energy- Manager from BEE( a statutory body under the Ministry of Power, Govt. of India); Technical due diligence, audit of solar energy plants are also a part of his responsibilities. Worked in India and overseas in various responsible positions on prestigious projects, being recognized and rewarded as well.


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