Green hydrogen, also known as renewable hydrogen or clean hydrogen, is hydrogen gas produced through a process called electrolysis using renewable sources of energy such as wind, solar, or hydroelectric power. Traditional methods of hydrogen production often rely on fossil fuels, which release carbon dioxide and contribute to environmental pollution. Green hydrogen production, on the other hand, utilizes clean energy sources to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen, with hydrogen being the desired end product.
When hydrogen generated from fossil fuels is known as grey hydrogen, which currently accounts for 95% of total production.
Hydrogen produced using electricity generated by burning fossil fuels, such as coal and gas, but paired with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies, which trap the carbon emissions released in the process and prevent them from entering the atmosphere, is labelled ‘blue’ hydrogen.
Advantage of green hydrogen as fuel:
- Hydrogen is very efficient in terms of energy produced.
2. Hydrogen can also be used in batteries. Fuel cells could, if developed at a larger scale, help countries set up infrastructure that can store and stabilise the supply of renewable energy, which fluctuates depending on environmental conditions such as wind speed or solar radiation.
3. Zero emission of greenhouse gases.
Economic Viability: According to the European Commission, the cost of producing Green hydrogen is between Rs 250-525 Rs/kg while for grey hydrogen it costs Rs 150/kg.
Transportation Problem: Hydrogen needs to be compressed or liquefied to reduce its volume for efficient transportation. Both compression and liquefaction processes require a significant amount of energy, which can impact the overall energy efficiency of the hydrogen supply chain.
Establishing a hydrogen transportation infrastructure involves substantial investments in building new pipelines, storage facilities, and transportation methods. This infrastructure development can be expensive and time-consuming.
Safety Concerns: Hydrogen is highly flammable and can ignite at a wide range of concentrations in the air. While safety measures can mitigate risks, transporting hydrogen safely requires adherence to strict safety standards and regulations.
Importing Low-Cost Renewable Energy: One of the key factors in reducing the cost of green hydrogen is accessing abundant and affordable renewable energy sources. Regions with ample sunlight, wind, or hydroelectric resources can capitalize on these sources to power electrolysis processes efficiently. Governments and industry players need to collaborate to develop policies and incentives that encourage the expansion of renewable energy capacity, making it economically viable to produce green hydrogen at scale.
Enhancing Electrolyzer Efficiency and Longevity: Research and development efforts aimed at improving the efficiency and lifespan of electrolyzers are crucial. Electrolyzers are central to the green hydrogen production process, and advancements in their design and materials can lead to higher conversion rates of electricity into hydrogen and longer operational lifetimes. This would contribute to lowering production costs and increasing the overall competitiveness of green hydrogen.
Developing Affordable Hydrogen Transport: Creating an economical and efficient way to transport hydrogen is essential for its widespread adoption. Innovations in storage and transportation methods, such as advanced composite materials, high-density storage solutions, and efficient hydrogen carriers, are needed. Research and development can pave the way for cost-effective and safe hydrogen transport, enabling the movement of hydrogen from production centers to consumption hubs.
The Way forward:
The path forward for green hydrogen hinges on strategic collaboration between governments and industries, prioritizing investments in low-cost renewable energy, advancing electrolyzer efficiency through R&D, and innovating affordable hydrogen transportation solutions. These efforts will collectively drive the scalability, competitiveness, and environmental impact of green hydrogen technologies.