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Expert’s Note: COP28 breakthroughs and India’s green hydrogen ambitions

COP28 this year was a good experience, with the event witnessing many breakthrough announcements, starting with the global community's announcement of tripling renewable capacity and the decision to move away from fossil fuels.

Although some of the hard actions might require further deliberation and discussion, in terms of energy storage, it was refreshing to see many discussions around renewables and e-mobility having a critical mention about energy storage and its role in the clean energy transition.

There were certain key initiatives that got launched at COP28, such as the Clean Energy Ministerial initiative on supercharging batteries where they are trying to identify key R&D progress that is required, and using the Clean Energy Ministerial platform for bringing in focus on that.

Similarly, the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP) launched a collaboration for deploying 5 GW of energy storage to improve energy access around the globe with a focus on African and Asian nations.

These were some key developments related to energy storage. Another area of interest was green hydrogen. India is already starting to take a lead in this space through the launch of the National Green Hydrogen Mission in January this year. As part of the mission's aims, the country is targeting production of at least 5 million metric tons of green hydrogen by 2030 and there are expectations of almost 125 GW of renewable capacity for supporting the mission. 

There is also a target to bring down the green hydrogen cost from $6-8 per kg right now to $1 per kg by 2030. This transition will require significant investment in R&D as well as scaling up of manufacturing, particularly electrolyzers: it is expected the country will require 60-100 GW of electrolyzer capacity.

India, of course, is looking to support both pathways to green hydrogen

Dr. Rahul Walawalkar, Founder & President of IESA

There is also focus on biomass-based green hydrogen, i.e. using biological processes to convert biomass into hydrogen, which is an alternative to using renewable energy for electrolysis of water, and is also considered as green hydrogen.

India, of course, is looking to support both pathways to green hydrogen. At the moment, there is greater investment in electrolyzer capacity, with many large conglomerates including Reliance, Larson & Toubro, Adani and others announcing plans for investing in electrolyzer capacity.

There is also the noteworthy initiative by the Department of Science & Technology (DST) for creating 4-5 hydrogen valleys in India. These could end up bringing industry and academia together to focus on some key challenges that need to be tackled to make India's green hydrogen vision a reality.

Already, DST has received more than 70 proposals for setting up hydrogen valleys, and seven of those have been shortlisted for final evaluation; we expect the final 3-5 winners to be announced in the next few months, and our current analysis expects Pune and Chennai to make the cut.

All this makes for a good start to India's energy transition. I think this decade is turning out to be a key decade for clean energy transition, not just from the deployment point, but also from the manufacturing point.

The PLI schemes, which were announced some years back, will start showing results next year; we can also expect 2-3 giga factories for advanced chemistry cell battery manufacturing to become operational.

Author : Dr. Rahul Walawalkar
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