National Hydrogen Energy Mission
Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of Finance, Government of India has proposed to launch “National Hydrogen Mission 2021-22” in the Union Budget 2021.
Objective of Hydrogen Energy Mission:
- I. Linking the country’s growing renewable energy capacity with the hydrogen economy.
- II. To develop hydrogen powered IC engine/turbine and fuel cell based power generating systems.
- III. To develop hydrogen powered IC engine and fuel cell based vehicles ranging from two/three wheelers to heavy vehicles.
- IV. Reduce carbon emissions from energy production and consumption.
- V. Reduce India’s dependency on import of petroleum products.
- VI. Increase reliability and efficiency of electricity generation.
- VII. To achieve India’s carbon emission target under the Paris Agreement 2015.
Realizing the importance of hydrogen as a fuel in the coming years, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy decided to prepare a National Hydrogen Energy Road Map for the country. In order to prepare, implement, monitor the Road Map and Fuel Cell Programme; a National Hydrogen Energy Board was set up under the Chairmanship of Minister for New and Renewable Energy in October, 2003.The National Hydrogen Energy Board in its first meeting on 23rd February, 2004 constituted a Steering Group under the chairmanship of Mr. Ratan Tata with Mr. Anand Mahindra as Co-chairman with the members from Government, Industry, Academia and Experts. The Steering Group set up five expert groups on hydrogen production, storage, application in power generation, application in automobile and systems integration to prepare a National Energy Road Map. The main objective of the National Hydrogen Energy Road Map was to identify the paths, which will lead to a gradual introduction of Hydrogen Energy in the country, accelerate commercialization efforts and facilitate creation of Hydrogen Energy Infrastructure in the country. The National Hydrogen Energy Road Map provides comprehensive approach to the development of the components of the hydrogen energy system, ranging from production, storage, transport, delivery, applications, safety and standards, education and awareness among others. Following targets had been set in road map to achieve it by 2020:
· One million vehicles based on hydrogen energy.
· 1000 MW of power generating capacity based on hydrogen energy.
Hydrogen was used to fuel the first internal combustion engines over 200 years ago. Hydrogen provided lift to balloons and airships in the 18th and 19th centuries, and propelled humanity to the moon in the 1960s. Hydrogen rose during the oil crisis in 1970s. In the 1990s concern about climate change spurred more studies on hydrogen, with a particular focus on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), renewable energy and transport. The number of countries establishing ambitious goals for greenhouse gas emissions reduction continues to increase, and with it the number of sectors considering the use of low-carbon hydrogen has risen. The global hydrogen generation market was valued at USD 143 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 201 billion by 2025.
Hydrogen is an energy carrier and not a source of energy. It can be produced from a wide variety of energy sources. Over 95 % of current hydrogen production is fossil-fuel based. Steam Methane Reforming (SMR) is the most common way of producing hydrogen. Only around 4 % of global hydrogen supply is produced via electrolysis. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), in 2018 demand for pure hydrogen was about 74 million tonnes (Mt), of which 38.2 Mt was used in oil refining and 31.5 Mt in ammonia production. There was a further 42 Mt of demand for hydrogen mixed with other gases such as carbon monoxide.
In recent years, colours have been used to refer to different sources of hydrogen production. Black, Grey or Brown refers to the production of hydrogen from coal, natural gas and lignite respectively. Blue is commonly used for the production of hydrogen from fossil fuels with CO2 emissions reduced by the use of CCUS. Green is a term applied to production of hydrogen from renewable electricity. In general, there are no established colours for hydrogen from biomass, nuclear or different varieties of grid electricity.
Technology option for low carbon Hydrogen
The dependence on natural gas and coal means that hydrogen production today generates significant CO2 emissions: 10 tonnes of carbon dioxide per tonne of hydrogen (tCO2/tH2) from natural gas, 612 tCO2/tH2 from oil product and 19 tCO2/tH2 from coal. This results in total CO2 formation of about 830 MtCO2/yr. The two main low-carbon production technologies involve: coupling conventional technologies with Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS) and generating hydrogen through water electrolysis.
· CCUS can be applied on conventional technology i.e. SMR and ATR for hydrogen production. Using CCUS with Steam Methane Reforming (SMR) plants can lead to a reduction in carbon emissions up to 90%, if applied to both process and energy emission streams. There are several ways in which CO2 capture can take place at SMR plant. CO2 can be separated from the high-pressure synthesis gas stream, reducing emissions by up to 60%. CO2 can also be captured from the more diluted furnace flue gas. This can boost the level of overall emission reduction to 90% or more, but it also increases costs.
· Electrolysers enable the production of clean hydrogen from low carbon electricity and water. Three main electrolyser technologies are used today i. e Alkaline Electrolysis, Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) Electrolysis and Solid Oxide Electrolysis Cells (SOECs).
What is Hydrogen Fuel Cell?
Fuel cell is a device that generates electricity through an electrochemical reaction in place of combustion. A fuel cell is composed of an anode, cathode and an electrolyte membrane. In a fuel cell, hydrogen and oxygen are combined to generate electricity, heat and water. A single fuel cell generates a tiny amount of Direct Current (DC) electricity. Fuel cells do not need to be periodically recharged like batteries, but instead continue to produce electricity as long as a fuel source is provided.
How does fuel cell works?
A typical fuel cell works by passing hydrogen through the anode of a fuel cell and oxygen through the cathode. At the anode site, a catalyst splits the hydrogen molecules into electrons and protons. The protons pass through the porous electrolyte membrane, while the electrons are forced through a circuit, generating an electric current and excess heat. At the cathode, the protons, electrons and oxygen combine to produce water molecules. As there are no moving parts, fuel cells operate silently and with extremely high reliability. Because fuel cells generate electricity through chemistry rather than combustion, they can achieve much higher efficiencies than traditional energy production methods such as steam turbines and internal combustion engines.
Fuel cells are also scalable. This means that individual fuel cells can be joined with one another to form stacks. In turn, these stacks can be combined into larger systems. Fuel cell systems vary greatly in size and power, from combustion engine replacements for electric vehicles to large-scale, multi-megawatt installations providing electricity directly to the utility grid.
Development of Hydrogen Energy Technology:
Several major countries like Canada, Germany, Japan, UK, USA etc. are supporting comprehensive research, technology development and demonstration programme for developing and deploying fuel cell systems for stationary, portable and transport applications. These countries are already working on various pilot projects from long year back. And in this context; many governments have made notable hydrogen related announcements as follows:
· China announced that the Ten Cities programme that launched battery electric vehicles in the China would be replicated for hydrogen transport in Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu, among others. Announced that Wuhan will become the first Chinese Hydrogen City, with up to 100 fuel cell automakers and related enterprises and up to 300 filling stations by 2025. And recommitted to the 2015 target of 1 million FCEVs by 2030, plus 1000 refuelling stations. China exempted Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle from vehicle and vessel tax.
· European Union’s energy ministers signed the Hydrogen Initiative, a non-binding political declaration of support for hydrogen development, in September 2018. The EU has launched a massive ‘green hydrogen’ programme based on surplus power from intermittent renewables sources to decarbonise industry and aviation and to develop export opportunities. Green hydrogen is seen as key to reaching 'net-zero' emissions targets, but as yet, costs are high due to expensive equipment and the amount of electricity required.
· France is providing €7 billion for green hydrogen from 6.5 GW electrolyser capacity by 2030, with €2 billion of this over the two years to 2022, in support of its 2018 hydrogen strategy.
· Germany approved the National Innovation Programme for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies for another ten years with EUR 1.4 billion of funding, including subsidies for publicly accessible hydrogen refuelling stations, fuel cell vehicles and micro co-generation purchases, to be complemented by EUR 2 billion of private investment. Supported the first commercial operation of a hydrogen-powered train, and the largest annual increase in refuelling stations in the country, though the H2mobility programme.
· South Korea has planned for increasing use of Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs), especially buses and trucks and expected hydrogen demand to double by 2030. Its national hydrogen roadmap says: “The total potential of hydrogen in Korea amounts to 17 Mt (equivalent to 564 TWh) in 2050, accounting for more than 20% of total national energy demand.” This is mainly blue hydrogen.
· United Kingdom aims for 5 GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030, mainly blue hydrogen, to produce one-fifth of the 2050 target. In February 2021 the UK Nuclear Industry Association published the Hydrogen Roadmap, showing how the country might achieve 225 TWh of low carbon hydrogen by 2050. It proposes 12-13 GW of nuclear reactors of all types using high-temperature steam electrolysis and thermochemical water-splitting to produce 75 TWh (2.3 or 1.9 Mt) of hydrogen by mid-century.
· United States California Fuel Cell Partnership outlined targets for 1000 hydrogen refuelling stations and 1million Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs) by 2030.
· India Minister of Finance, Government of India has proposed to launch National Hydrogen Mission 2021-22 in the Union Budget 2021. TATA Motors first unveiled its hydrogen fuel cell bus at its Pune facility in January 2018 and in collaboration with the Indian Oil Corporation flagged off its test runs for two years. Tata launched the Star bus Electric 9m, Star bus Electric 12m and the Star bus Hybrid 12m range of buses which were designed, developed, powered by alternative fuels and made in India. Kerala is set to become the first State to operate hydrogen powered buses, with two buses set to ply on the Ernakulum-Thiruvananthapuram sector by mid-2021 on a pilot basis. Another 50 buses will be introduced before October 2021.National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) is planning to start a premium Hydrogen fuel bus service on Delhi to Jaipur route as a pilot project. However no specific timeline has been provided for when the service would be started.
Hydrogen and Fuel Cells in the World’s leading cities:
Hydrogen fuel cells can be found in many different places today. The technology is still developing therefore most of the application have been for demonstration or pilot projects. Applications have included small home appliances, Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles and stationary power for offices, hospitals and remotely located habitations. However, application in power and transport sector can change the present scenario of the world. Milestones achieved in some of the leading countries/cities of the world are as below:
· In May 2003, Madrid became the first city in the world to run a regular hydrogen Bus service.
· Fuel cell buses in London have covered around 1.1 million Kilo meters up to early 2016.
· The world’s first fleet of double decker hydrogen buses launched into service in Aberdeen, Scotland.
· Germany launched world's first hydrogen powered passenger train: Coradia iLint on September 16, 2018. This train is manufactured by Alstom and it can carry up to 300 passengers with seats for 150, boasting a top speed of 140 km/h. Other countries are also looking into hydrogen trains including Britain, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Italy, and Canada. However, the French government has already said it wants the first hydrogen train to be on the rails by 2022.
· As of the end of October 2020, there were about 161 operating fuel cells at 108 facilities in the United States with a total of about 250 megawatts (MW) of electric generation capacity. It uses hydrogen produced from natural gas to operate the fuel cells.
World’s First & Largest Hydrogen Fuel Cell Plant-South Korea
Daesan Fuel Cell Power Plant, South Korea is the largest industrial hydrogen fuel cell power plant in the world and the first to only use hydrogen recycled from petrochemical manufacturing. A total cost of $215 Million has been invested in the generation plant. The plant has annual production capacity of 50 MW and ability to generate up to 4, 00, 000 MWh of electricity per year. This plant uses by-product hydrogen from Hanwha Total Petro-Chemical Company's plant as fuel and generates electricity using its fuel-cell system. The plant only produces water as a by-product without emitting greenhouse gases. The electricity needs of 1, 60, 000 homes can meet by this power plant.
Apart From this, South Korea is seen as one of the leading Asian countries in the development of hydrogen projects, with many of the recent ambitious plans and announcements being made in the country. It has been developing hydrogen technology in major sectors of the economy such as electricity, energy, transport, commercial & retail.
Opportunities for Hydrogen Energy:
i. Hydrogen energy is being considered for public transportation applications, including hydrogen fuel cell buses & taxi.
ii. Hydrogen fuel cell trains have now appeared in Germany, and in the next five years, other models are expected to come to Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan, South Korea and the United States.
iii. At a local level, stationary fuel cells are used as part of uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems, where continuous uptime is critical. Both hospitals and data centres are increasingly looking to hydrogen to meet their uninterruptible power supply needs. Recently, Microsoft made headlines with a successful test of its new hydrogen backup generators, running one data centre’s servers on nothing but hydrogen for two days.
iv. Hydrogen offers versatile options for mobile power generation. In fact, some of the earliest hydrogen fuel cells were developed by NASA to provide electricity for rockets and shuttles in space.
v. From package delivery to search and rescue operations, many new applications of UAVs (i.e. drones) are significantly limited by the power and range provided by traditional batteries. Both military and private industry plan to overcome these challenges with hydrogen fuel cells that boast up to three times the range of battery-based systems. Fuel cells also have a higher energy to mass ratio and can be refuelled in a few minutes.
Challenges for Hydrogen Energy:
· Development of cost effective technology.
· Development of compact & inexpensive storage capacity.
· Development of hydrogen fuelled IC engines with higher life and costs comparable to IC engines.
· Efficiency improvement for different types of Fuel Cell systems.
· Development of the components of the hydrogen energy system.
· Production, storage & transport of Hydrogen.
· Safety & Standards.
· Education and public awareness of emerging hydrogen technology.
The Hydrogen Technology is still developing in the world. Therefore; production, transportation, storage and application systems are to be developed and demonstrated in a coordinated manner considering the diversity of India. The key issues and the likely options need to be vigorously pursued. And for this purpose large scale introduction of hydrogen based power generating systems and vehicle needs to be taken up as part of well-coordinated programme based on the public private partnership.
Government of India has taken initiative and lots of pilot project is going on. National Hydrogen Mission will cover all elements of the hydrogen energy system in India. Apart from this, aforesaid mission will benefit India in reducing carbon emissions, dependency on import of crude oil & fossil fuel type power generating plants and propel India to become the most favoured nation by exporting hydrogen to its neighbours and beyond.
Prateek Kumar Mishra