Green Hydrogen: Fuelling India’s journey to net zero

By Anuraag Bharadwaj, Vice President and India Industry Platform Leader for Automotive, Capgemini

India’s economy runs on fuel and its dependency as a net importer is ever-increasing. The country imports over 40 per cent of its primary energy needs worth more than $90 billion every year. Major sectors such as mobility and industrial production bank heavily on imported fossil fuels. The government’s ‘National Green Hydrogen Mission’ aims to reduce the use of imported fossil fuels and shift to green hydrogen. Thanks to the abundant domestic renewable energy resources – a combined installed capacity of 174.53 GW to be precise, green hydrogen production can be propelled.

Green hydrogen is a key driver for India’s ambition of being energy-independent by 2047 and net zero by 2070. The carbon-free fuel offers a sustainable solution to the emissions of automotive, chemical, and industrial sectors. With huge capital investments and commitment to large-scale projects in green hydrogen across the world, the energy transition is set to gather momentum.

The success and pace of the green-hydrogen transition, however, will depend on the strategic and sufficient use of digital technology in addition to government reforms and incentives, higher public and private investment, engineering advances and a skilled workforce.


Go green, go digital

Green hydrogen provides opportunities and solutions of deep decarbonization, however, its production faces many challenges. Other than physical and material needs, stakeholders must leverage digital technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) or a combination of both—artificial intelligence of things (AIoT)—to automate and optimize the generation of green hydrogen. AIoT can enable clean and safe green hydrogen production by managing functions of storage, transport, plant performance, asset health, purity, cloud-based supervision, and more.

Digital twin technology can address the economic viability of renewable energy-based water electrolysis used for green hydrogen generation. It can create virtual models of complex chemical and physical processes and support decision-making at all stages of production. For instance, Everfuel has collaborated with Siemens PSE to use the latter’s gPROMS digital twin technology and speed up the development of HySynergy, a large-scale green hydrogen production and storage project in Denmark.

Digital technology will also be a major catalyst in the formation of a hydrogen economy necessary to drive sustainable transformation. In a nutshell, green hydrogen production must be digitally native, designed and architected with the underlying principles of industry 4.0/ 5.0.


Developing a hydrogen economy

Governments, industries, organizations, and international bodies are exploring innovative ways to reduce their carbon footprint and launch a coordinated response for environmental actions. They, now more than ever, are taking conscious decisions to address the climate crisis. A hydrogen economy, accelerated by digital technology, can help stakeholders achieve their sustainability goals.

India’s government has approved an outlay of Rs 197.44 billion for the ‘National Green Hydrogen Mission’, of which Rs 174.9 billion rupees have been earmarked for the Strategic Interventions for Green Hydrogen Transition (SIGHT) programme and Rs 4 billion crore rupees for research and development. State-run energy and fuel companies such as NTPC Ltd, Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd, and Gas Authority of India have also committed to the development of green hydrogen projects.

The private sector is also leading green hydrogen initiatives. India’s Greenko Group has partnered with Singapore’s Keppel Infrastructure to export green hydrogen to the latter. Reliance Industries Ltd aims to transition to green hydrogen production by 2025.

A stable and reliable hydrogen economy can be achieved through the expansion of supporting infrastructure. Currently, hydrogen is produced for industrial purposes and is usually consumed on site. To offset the overwhelming scale of constructing new infrastructure, especially across the length and breadth of India, the existing networks of gas pipelines and resources can be used.


India’s green hydrogen marketplace

A NITI Aayog and Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) India report showed that the cumulative value of the green hydrogen market in India could reach $8 billion by 2030 and $340 billion by 2050. If these targets remain on track, the green hydrogen marketplace is expected to attract massive investments and create millions of employment opportunities.

To fully reap the benefits of such a marketplace, policy measures enabling and encouraging the transition from grey to green hydrogen will play a vital role. A collaborative approach by the government and private stakeholders towards bridging investment gaps will support key industries. Once India builds a globally-competitive and independent green hydrogen industry, it can become an export hub. The agriculture sector will also contribute to the growth of the green hydrogen market. Sustainability across mobility, industrial production, chemical and refining sectors can become the norm, and green hydrogen is a significant and transformative step in this direction.