[Editorial Analysis] Green hydrogen, a new ally for a zero carbon future

Mains Paper 3: Environment
Prelims level: Green Hydrogen
Mains level: Green Energy Mission

Context:

• Fossil fuels are responsible for the production of over 830 million tons per annum of carbon dioxide. Scientists are trying to find the alternatives to these fuels.

• The forthcoming 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow from November 1-12, 2021 is to re-examine the coordinated action plans to mitigate greenhouse gases and climate adaptation measures.

Green Hydrogen – Energy-rich source:

• ‘Green hydrogen’: is a zero-carbon fuel made by electrolysis using renewable power from wind and solar to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. It can be utilised for the generation of power from natural sources — wind or solar systems — and will be a major step forward in achieving the target of ‘net zero’ emission.

• Presently, less than 0.1% or say ~75 million tons/year of hydrogen capable of generating ~284GW of power, is produced.

• Types: The production techniques of this ‘Energy-Carrier’ vary depending upon its applications — designated with different colours such as black hydrogen, brown hydrogen, blue hydrogen, green hydrogen, etc.

• Black hydrogen is produced by use of fossil fuel.

• Brown hydrogen is formed through coal gasification.

• Grey hydrogen from natural gas throws off carbon waste.

• Blue hydrogen is cleaner version for which the emissions of carbon are captured and stored, or reused.

• Pink hydrogen is produced through electrolysis, but using energy from nuclear power sources.

• Green Hydrogen: Uses fossil fuel.

Advantages of Hydrogen:

• High Fuel Efficiency: Hydrogen has an energy density almost three times that of diesel.

• Zero emission: ‘Green hydrogen’ produces ‘zero emission’ of carbon dioxide. Power generation by ‘net-zero’ emission will be the best solution to achieve the target of expert guidelines on global warming to remain under 1.5° C.

• Industrial application: From rockets in space technology to industrial manufacturing and metallurgical processes, apart from production of energy. It has application in sectors such as ammonia, steel, methanol, transport and energy storage.

• Offset high power Demand: The global population is growing at a rate of 1.1%, adding about 83 million human heads every year on the planet. As a result, the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts the additional power demand to be to the tune of 25%-30% by the year 2040.

• Less Air Pollution: in 2018, 8.7 million people died prematurely as result of air pollution from fossil fuels around the Globe.

Challenge:

• Technological: Challenge is to compress or liquify the LH2 (liquid hydrogen); it needs to be kept at a stable minus 253° C (far below the temperature of minus 163° C at which Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) is stored; entailing its ‘prior to use exorbitant cost’.

• The obstacle of cost: According to studies by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IREA), the production cost of this ‘green source of energy’ is expected to be around $1.5 per kilogram (for nations having perpetual sunshine and vast unused land), by the year 2030; by adopting various conservative measures.

Indian Plans:

• The Indian Railways have announced the country’s first experiment of a hydrogen-fuel cell technology-based train by retrofitting an existing diesel engine; this will run under Northern Railway on the 89 km stretch between Sonepat and Jind.

• The project will not only ensure diesel savings to the tune of several lakhs annually but will also prevent the emission of 0.72 kilo tons of particulate matter and 11.12 kilo tons of carbon per annum.

• National Hydrogen Energy Mission aims to produce Hydrogen from green energy sources.

• Currently, India consumes around 5.5 million tonnes of hydrogen, primarily produced from imported fossil fuels.

• Currently India produces grey or blue hydrogen which use fossil fuels for it production.

Conclusion:

• India is the world’s fourth largest energy consuming country (behind China, the United States and the European Union), according to the IEA’s forecast, and will overtake the European Union to become the world’s third energy consumer by the year 2030. Realising the impending threats to economies, the Summit will see several innovative proposals from all over the world in order to reduce dependence on use of fossil fuels.

• It is high time to catch up with the rest of the world by going in for clean energy, decarbonising the economy and adopting ‘Green hydrogen’ as an environment-friendly and safe fuel for the next generations.

———————————————

Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the monsoon, consider the following statements:

1. According to data from the India Meteorological Department (IMD), India ended the month of August with a 24% shortfall, which is far from the forecast of a “normal” monsoon.

2. The “below normal” rainfall is characterised by rainfall between 90% and 96% of the long period average of 88 cm.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: C

Subscribe to Get Weekly updates

Get daily current affair video, detailed current affairs PPT for quick revision and Free One Liner PDF directly in your inbox. Subscribe now to get this month's one liner for FREE.