By Sarthak Takyar
Headquartered in the US, Ohmium International specialises in the design, manufacture and deployment of polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolyser. Its research and development (R&D) centres are in Silicon Valley and Bengaluru, alongside a manufacturing centre in India. The company created the manufacturing centre in India to ensure availability of end-to-end solutions within the country and to reduce reliance on imports of critical equipment for producing green hydrogen. The company has received investment from the Fenice Investment Group, which was started by Ahmed Chatila. The Fenice Investment Group has investments in several renewable energy companies including the Bengaluru-based Arka Solar that primarily focuses on decentralised solar applications, and FTC Solar, a US-listed utility-scale solar tracking company with a presence in India as well. The investment group’s electrolyser company is now in the limelight and has announced several key developments in the past few months.
In January 2022, Ohmium International partnered with IIT Madras Research Park (IITMRP) for research on the performance and cost improvements in its PEM electrolysers. The R&D partnership between Ohmium and IITMRP aims to accelerate the implementation of PEM technology enhancements into production at Ohmium’s electrolyser gigafactory in Bengaluru, India’s first green hydrogen electrolyser gigafactory. The gigafactory was set up in August 2021, with an initial manufacturing capacity of 500 MW per year, with a target of scaling it up to 2 GW per year. In the same month, Hero Future Energies (HFE) and Ohmium International announced a strategic collaboration to develop and build 1,000 MW of green hydrogen production facilities in India, the UK and Europe. Ohmium would also be responsible for the design, construction, operations and maintenance of the hydrogen production facilities. HFE would be the build-operate-own partner and generate green energy to power manufacturing facilities and assume overall asset ownership. In November 2021, Ohmium International sent its first unit of electrolyser from India to the US through its Indian subsidiary. Ohmium produced the electrolyser at its Bengaluru plant.
Ohmium’s outlook on India is positive, given the key policy impetus in the hydrogen energy space. According to reports, the key impetus in in different phases the green hydrogen space will be in the form of incentives for electrolyser manufacturing, mandates/obligations for the purchase of hydrogen, centralised bidding through demand aggregation and focus on R&D.
The government is looking at the green hydrogen sector as an opportunity to build a fully integrated electrolyser manufacturing capacity in India. To this end, incentives are likely to be announced to promote large-scale electrolyser manufacturing. Production-linked incentives to support the manufacturing of electrolysers, such as programmes for batteries and solar photovoltaics, will also be planned, according to initial reports. The scheme is proposed to be designed in such a way that better performing electrolysers are incentivised. The government is also working with the Bureau of Indian Standards and the Department of Commerce on standards and regulations.
The government proposes to impose small mandates on industries that already use hydrogen for the consumption of a certain percentage of green hydrogen in a bid to create demand for green hydrogen. These include fertiliser and petroleum refinery companies, which use almost all the hydrogen derived from fossil fuels, contributing to almost the entire hydrogen consumption in the country per year. The government also plans to set up pilot projects to gain experience and create demand. Moreover, there are plans for demand aggregation through centralised bidding of large-scale green hydrogen and possibly green ammonia projects. After this, long-term contracts of 5-15 years are expected to be signed, so that producers are assured of a market. Further, in the mobility sector, it is expected that the focus will be on long-range and heavy duty vehicles. The capital expenditure for such projects is quite high right now, thus the provision of some form of viability gap funding is reportedly under discussion. The government is also looking at maritime applications. The mission reportedly aims to support cutting-edge research and innovation to ensure that the Indian green hydrogen industry remains globally competitive. Thus, the government will be supporting industry-oriented R&D.
Given that Ohmium has entered early into India’s green hydrogen space and implemented serious and visible strategies vis-à-vis manufacturing, industry collaboration and R&D, it has a bright opportunity to capitalise on the government’s ambitious green hydrogen plans.