Energy: The unquenchable thirst for humankind
As we look around, every nation is pushing its own limits to secure its energy sources. Every country, be it the superpowers or tiny island nations, has always raced and competed to get hold of scarce energy resources. Starting from the imperial colonial pursuits of the exploring Europeans to the contemporary developing economies, nations have always tried to make themselves energy secure. A closer look at the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian crisis, reveals that the war is over the prized natural resources in Russia and supply to Europe. From electricity to fuels for our vehicles, energy has become an indispensable part of today’s world.
Energy, thus, has always been central to the growth of a nation. With irresponsible and injudicious exploitation of these resources, there have been adverse effects on the environment and the biosphere as a whole. Driven by fossil fuels, conventional energy resources, including petroleum and its by-products and coal, have led to unimaginable consequences. Global warming and climate change are the biggest existential threat to our planet.
All these facts though are well-known problems, what the world needs today are innovative, cost-effective, and eco-friendly mechanisms to counter climate change. The world needs to quickly turn to alternatives and ensure an effective, sustainable and inclusive transition. We are today at a priceless moment, where advanced technology is at our fingertips, there is increasing awareness about climate change and its effects, and the country is young and growing, therefore there can be no better time to act than now.
India’s Tryst with Energy Alternatives
Many alternatives are known, and many are being implemented at various levels. In line with its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), India has envisaged an ambitious path of Panchamrit. These are five principles that will act as India’s contribution to mitigating climate change. In realising these responsibilities, India has had experience with different alternatives to the energy transition. The International Solar Alliance with more than 100 member nations stands as a testimony to India’s leadership in pushing for the energy transition. India also looks forward to harnessing energy from wind and nuclear energies. The National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) is the broad umbrella framework to synergise India’s efforts to decarbonise its economy. The key component of this journey is the availability of cost-effective fuel alternatives, with a smooth and easy transition.
The Fuel for a Sustainable Future: Green Hydrogen
Green Hydrogen, is the hydrogen produced through electrolysis of water using renewable energy. Hydrogen as a fuel has been explored as an option for hard-to-abate sectors. These include iron ore and steel, fertilisers, refining, methanol, aviation, and maritime shipping.
In line with NAPCC, India is prioritising green hydrogen as a potential solution to decarbonise hard-to abate sectors in the economy. The National Hydrogen Mission was recently launched with the aim of making India the world’s largest hydrogen hub. Under this mission, the Green Hydrogen Policy was approved. Green Hydrogen forms the backbone of India’s transition to a cleaner and greener fuel. India’s commitment to the Net Zero target and reduction of emissions in critical and high polluting sectors. This policy will facilitate the transition from fossil fuels to Green Hydrogen based fuels.
Green Hydrogen clears the triple bottom line test aligned with the 3Ps of Sustainability – People, Planet and Profit. Especially for developing countries, where unemployment is high and energy demand is increasing for developmental activities, this energy transition would create infrastructure and job opportunities for the youth, upskilling them with green skills. The youth of today are aware of the problems of tomorrow and are creating solutions for them. This transition would lead Bharat towards energy security, fuelling its growth by fulfilling its energy requirement, at the same time reducing the carbon footprint, fulfilling its responsibility towards people and planet.
Towards a Shifting Goal Post: energy security
Energy security remains a critical challenge when looking through the lens of socio-economic development in India. Rapid development, industrialisation, and urbanisation, though come with their own costs, are crucial for India’s growth. In this trade-off between rapid, cost-effective development and ecological responsibility, India’s energy security needs a relook. This is kind of a shifting goal post, with varying needs and challenges. Green Hydrogen looks to provide answers to many of these challenges.
Hydrogen as a fuel can help India gain a lead and carry the momentum towards energy security. It can go a long way in reducing dependency on crude oil-based fuel imports and give a fillip to its action plan to mitigate climate change. Its production, transportation, storage, and use are still a work in progress but India needs to be quick and innovative to create new avenues for itself and the world.
Green hydrogen will harness, coordinate and synergise the action against climate change on multiple fronts. By launching the Green Hydrogen policy, India looks to fill in the void and ensure long-term energy security. In line with the government’s objective of Atma Nirbharta or Self-reliance, Hydrogen policy is a firm and determined push for energy security. There is a need to decentralise the production, centralise the grid connections to achieve the targets. The bottom-up approach led by rural India, pushed by various stakeholders in all ways is the way forward.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own.