In her Budget 2021 speech, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the National Hydrogen Mission that will capitalise on one of the most abundant elements on earth. The green energy source could also bring together bigwigs like Ambani, Tata, and Mahindra and some of the biggest companies in India, including Reliance Industries as well as Indian Oil Corporation.
Chaitanya Giri, a fellow of space and ocean studies with Mumbai-based think tank Gateway House says in his paper on Methane Economy that the need of the hour is a coalition of stakeholders, much like the Hydrogen Council or the European Hydrogen Coalition. "Companies like Indian Oil, the Tatas, the Mahindras, the Eicher -- let them be a part of the coalition. Then speciality chemicals companies like Reliance can be also a part of it," he told Business Insider.
Giri said that no one company or an industry can pull this off alone. It will need the auto sector, fuel companies, speciality chemicals and advanced materials companies to join forces. Only fuel cannot make hydrogen a feasible solution, it will also require cars to process, fueling stations, and technology to ensure that it remains safe as hydrogen is an explosive element.
Countries including Germany are already using a coalition that aims to put up 400 hydrogen fueling stations by 2023.
India could seek help from Norway, Sweden or New Zealand to create a blueprint of the system but the projects would need to be scaled to meet India's requirements. Their national models could also be used for cities initially, he said.
There are currently two ways to collect hydrogen. Electrolysis of water is one way but water is a scarce resource. The other way is to split natural gas into two parts hydrogen and one part carbon. Carbon, once solidified could be used to create materials for sectors like space, aerospace, auto, shipbuilding, and electronics.
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