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Leveraging natural gas to usher in the green hydrogen era

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A 150 million tonnes capacity addition primarily based on coal is being targeted by 2030 to propel our economic growth through manufacturing, requiring investments to the tune of Rs 5,000 crore per million tonnes of steel capacity.A 150 million tonnes capability addition based totally on coal is being focused by 2030 to propel our financial progress by way of manufacturing, requiring investments to the tune of Rs 5,000 crore per million tonnes of metal capability. (Consultant picture)

By Hemant Mallya & Tirtha Biswas

Pure fuel presently has a 6.6% share in India’s vitality combine and is focused to extend to fifteen% by 2030. Pure fuel is the cleanest fossil gasoline and has broad utilization throughout energy, business and transport sectors, however solely has a 40% smaller emission-footprint than coal. Splitting water utilizing renewable vitality to provide inexperienced hydrogen is anticipated to be a viable cost-competitive and carbon-neutral vitality supply, however solely by 2040. Inexperienced hydrogen can displace pure fuel wholly or partly in all sectors. Subsequently, it’s important to strictly place pure fuel as a transition gasoline for speedy GHG reductions and allow the entry of hydrogen in a decade. Three broad measures must be prioritised – first, deploying applied sciences in business and transport that use pure fuel now however are hydrogen-ready; second, adapting pure fuel infrastructure to hydrogen; and third, utilising pure fuel for producing hydrogen to kickstart the inexperienced hydrogen ecosystem.

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First, we have to put money into applied sciences that may readily transition to hydrogen. Metal manufacturing presently consumes 14% of the overall delivered vitality. A 150 million tonnes capability addition based totally on coal is being focused by 2030 to propel our financial progress by way of manufacturing, requiring investments to the tune of Rs 5,000 crore per million tonnes of metal capability. It takes 40-50 years to get better these prices. Coal-based applied sciences have restricted potential to mix hydrogen within the current course of. Present business steel-making know-how can swap between pure fuel and hydrogen (and all intermediate blends) to provide metal. It’s important to deploy this know-how for all new capability additions. It will cut back the general carbon depth of the metal business, and inexperienced hydrogen can finally be launched because it turns into cost-competitive with pure fuel.

Tools reminiscent of boilers, furnaces, and heaters which have widespread use throughout industrial sectors for warm water, steam, and warmth presently use furnace oil, coal, and pet coke. Whereas a lot of them may be electrified, hydrogen is the one potential long-term resolution for functions requiring high-grade warmth. Once more, pure fuel gear must be deployed that may utilise a mix with hydrogen. Relying on the know-how, as much as 20% mixing of hydrogen is feasible. Equally, compressed pure fuel blended with hydrogen (H-CNG) know-how is being piloted within the transport sector and needs to be promoted.

Second, India has 17,000 km of pure fuel transmission pipelines, and there are plans so as to add one other 15,000 km within the coming decade. This supplies a possibility to deploy hydrogen-ready pipelines and related infrastructure. Pipelines usually have a lifetime of over 40-50 years, and the turnover is sluggish. Thus, planning for future hydrogen-ready pipelines immediately is important. New pipe ought to all be hydrogen corrosion-resistant by way of use of higher grade metal. Current pipe may be regularly made hydrogen resistant over the subsequent decade by way of scheduled adaptation applications. It will unfold out the price of such a transition over a few years. Additional, a major share of this adaptation value would then be borne by pure fuel now, thus enabling the entry of hydrogen sooner or later.

Third, inexperienced hydrogen is presently not less than three and 7 occasions as costly as pure fuel and coal, respectively, per unit of vitality. However we have to construct an ecosystem to soak up inexperienced hydrogen when it turns into cost-competitive with fossil fuels. Nevertheless, the ecosystem won’t materialise till there’s a demand for hydrogen. Pure fuel may also be utilised in new applied sciences that produce hydrogen and strong carbon (black). This eliminates carbon dioxide emissions and produces a helpful by-product. Hydrogen so derived will probably be aggressive with inexperienced hydrogen and may be utilised to construct demand for inexperienced hydrogen of the longer term. Within the green-hydrogen financial system story, the journey will probably be as necessary because the vacation spot itself. If deliberate properly, pure fuel can play the function of a bridge gasoline and never act as a barrier to the entry of inexperienced hydrogen. Quite the opposite, stigmatising pure fuel will solely lock in additional of the present dirtier fossil fuels, additional delaying the entry of inexperienced hydrogen.

Mallya is senior programme lead, and Biswas is programme lead, Council on Power, Setting and Water (CEEW)

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