INDIA’S H2@SCALE STRATEGY – RATIONALE AND IMPERATIVE
India produced green hydrogen in 1961 from hydro-power at the Bhakra Nangal dam to manufacture fertilizer. It articulated its National Hydrogen Plan in 2006, funded R&D pilots and collaborated with industry on transport PoCs. In 2016, Dr. Kasturirangan Committee identified ways to expand the hydrogen supply chain but most recommendations remain unimplemented. Efforts are underway to create transport PoCs by IOCL (H2 fueling stations, HCNG blending) and NTPC (FCEV bus pilots in Leh and Delhi).
Meanwhile, the global H2 eco-system has matured, with an role for H2 in net-zero carbon pathways. Significant private and public funding has gone towards building H2 value-chains at scale. Between 2018 and 2020, 31 large-scale demonstration projects (Hydrogen Valley or Hubs) were announced, backed with over USD 30 billion.
India has to align national plans to global developments, embrace H2 as part of its clean energy transtion strategy (as with renewables and EVs), build scale (moving ahead from R&D pilots), if it wants to create a domestic H2 supply chain and bring costs down. Developing the right national H2 commercialization requires concerted actions by industry and government, alignment with national RE and EV plans, to meet decarbonization targets and create new energy jobs.
IH2A’S SIX RECOMMENDATIONS – BUILDING A ‘BHARAT H2’ ECO-SYSTEM AND SUPPLY CHAIN BY 2030
IH2A’s recommends six interventions to the Government of India, as well as industrial and energy corporations, for creating a H2@scale ‘Bharat H2’ economy and a domestic H2 supply chain in India by 2030:
RECOMMENDATION 1: PUBLIC-PRIVATE NATIONAL H2 TASK-FORCE, NATIONAL H2 PLAN & ROADMAP
A national hydrogen strategy and plan should be prepared together with private sector H2 champions (including industrial majors, H2 investors and international players with H2 project experience), by a specially constituted Public-Private Bharat H2 Taskforce. The Bharat H2 Taskforce would review the Kasturirangan Committee recommendations, prepare a milestone-based Bharat H2 roadmap aligning with the national RE and EV national plans for 2021-2030, and oversee implementation of the roadmap. A similar role is played by Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking FCH JU, formed by European Commission and the industry, in Europe.
The Bharat H2 roadmap should focus on building an H2 economy at scale – create policy clarity, establish linkages between public support and private participation on H2 projects, provide incentives and invite private risk capital to commercialize H2 value chain:
- H2 production at scale – Build national electrolyzer capacity and domestic manufacturing capability
- Uniform set of hydrogen storage and transport standards – Critical for domestic manufacturing of pressurised gas and liquified H2 storage, transport and dispensing equipment and a domestic supply chain.
- Multi-sector industrial use-cases and hubs – National H2 projects of national importance (similar to Projects of Common European Interest IPCEI in Europe) will facilitate project information/ sharing so that supporting linkages can be built. National projects should be supported with offtake agreements and incentives, enabling infrastructure and facilitate formation of H2 project consortiums. The National H2 Taskforce should also prepare a central repository of all H2 projects so that differrent stakeholders can learn from each project, as well as share learning with H2 national projects in other jurisdctions.
RECOMMENDATION 2: NATIONAL H2 PRODUCTION & NATIONAL ELECTROLYSER MANUFACTURING MISSION
India’s potential to produce green hydrogen from 15-20 GW installed capacity by 20301 from expected RE excess capacity and resultant curtailment (with a 450 GW national RE target by 2030) as well as link to hydrogen as an energy storage vector. Capital cost of electrolysers (estimated 2030 electrolyser capital cost at USD 250-300/kW) rather than RE feedstock, is expected to be the only hurdle to electrolyser deployments and indigenisation/ domestic electrolyser manufacturing will play a determining role in driving H2 commercialisation. Electrolyser capital costs, collectively estimated at USD 5-6 billion, is expected to be privately funded with public funding being utilised for H2 offtake and infrastructure. This is an opportunity to create a National Electrolyser Manufacturing Mission, aligned with the existing FAME II scheme and create 3-4 large Indian electrolyser manufacturing companies in India.
- PLI scheme should be extended for all H2-related domestic manufacturing (as for solar and batteries) early on
- National H2 projects with RE linkages should get similar same tax and policy incentives as RE projects
- State offtake guarantees for H2 – critical for financial viability of electrolyser production plants, backed by incentives (e.g., similar to Renewable Purchase Obligations for RE) to improve financial viability of projects
- Incentives to encourage formation of H2 project consortia for projects over a certain size in identified areas
- Initiate a domestic H2 manufacturing and supply chain study, and its linkages with RE and EV plans, including plans for new natural gas pipelines (to accommodate H2 blending as well as 100% H2 pipelines in the future)
- Develop a Bharat H2 exports vision to become a Green H2 export hub in Asia to Japan and Korea beyond 2030
RECOMMENDATION 3 – FUND BHARAT H2@SCALE BY CREATING A NATIONAL H2-FOCUSSED FUND
IH2A’s view is that India will be unable to transition from PoC to large-scale demonstration projects unless it is suppored by dedicated project funding. IH2A recommends creation of a national H2-themed Energy Transition Fund, with co-funding partnerships with sovereigns, multi-lateral agencies and clean energy funds. The ambition should be to create an investible pool of at least USD 1 bn by 2030 (starting with USD 500 mn in 2023-25), through this fund, with deployments directed towards national H2 projects of a certain scale, supported by fiscal and non-fiscal incentives and available to large project consortiums who invest in building H2 supply chains in India. Other funding mechanism could include debt structures and project financing models by multi-lateral lending agencies.
RECOMMENDATION 4 – BHARAT H2@SCALE INTEROPERABLE STORAGE AND TRANSPORT STANDARDS
IH2A recommends a uniform set of Bharat H2 standards for hydrogen storage, transport and dispensation, that are globally harmonized and inter-operable across different use-cases and sectors. A uniform set of technical standards and safety certifications for industrial clusters and commercial scale use-cases, for high-pressure and liquified hydrogen storage and transport is an important pre-requisite for building a domestic value chain. IH2A will work closely with ISO and the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) to help create these standard.
1Assuming 10% total 2030 RE capacity of 450 GW i.e., 45 GW of RE is available through curtailment for conversion to green hydrogen, and assuming half of it is converted through installed electrolysers
standards and safety certifications for industrial clusters and commercial scale use-cases, for high-pressure and liquified hydrogen storage and transport is an important pre-requisite for building a domestic value chain. IH2A will work closely with ISO and the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) to help create these standard.
RECOMMENDATION 5 – BHARAT H2 HUBS AND VALLEYS, WITH SUPPORTING POLICY DESIGN
IH2A’s view is that India should identify and scope at least 10 national Hydrogen Valleys or H2 Hubs – large-scale demonstration stage projects that helps build a domestic hydrogen supply, with participation from industry consortia and special incentives (as well as off-take guarantees) by the government. This approach towards H2 commercialisation is supported by Mission Innovation (a global G2G initiative that India is part of) and provides a global template for project funding, risk management and collaboration between public and private participants.
IH2A’s recommendation is that India should initiate pre-feasibility studies for at least ten national Bharat H2 Valleys or Hydrogen Hubs, and invite industry players to participate. By building the H2 value chain in an industrial cluster, hydrogen infrastructure requirements are localised. This approach acknowledges the high cost of hydrogen infrastructure and recognizes the inter-linkages between renewable energy producers and industrial offtakers. The government should play an active role as H2 off-taker in these national projects.
RECOMMENDATION 6 – PRIORITIZING INDUSTRIAL CLUSTERS, HEAVY-DUTY TRANSPORT USE-CASES
IH2A expects steel, refineries, fertilizers and cement industrial clusters to be H2 early adopters, as part of their decarbonisation plans, with potentially distributed models. Industrial plants and clusters with proximity to renewable energy sources can be H2 offtakers if supported with incentives, integrated hydrogen production facilities and locally available H2 infrastructure. IH2A recommends that a Bharat H2 Industrial Group, bringing together sectoral ministries and industry leaders should be constituted to identify common set of fiscal incentives, consortia structures and H2 commercialisation processes for identified plants/clusters that choose to take lead on early H2 adoption. This would establish H2 adoption pathways in Green Steel and Cement classifications and incentives to encourage Blue and Green Ammonia use in refineries and fertilizer plants.
IH2A’s view is that heavy-duty transport will be early adopters of H2 as part of the switch from diesel fuels and high cost of H2 refueling infrastructure (and mobile fuel-cell systems). IH2A recommends creation of a Bharat H2 Heavy-Duty Transport Group, bringing together the ministries of railways, road and highways and shipping with industry transport leaders, to build common standards for FCEVs for freight, use of H2 as marine fuel/bunker fuel and H2 refueling infrastructure along identified dedicated freight corridors, as national demonstration-stage projects (like the H2Haul initiative in Europe). This group would focus on railways (FC locomotives), road transport (trucking, buses, fork-lifts) and shipping sectors, working in tandem with electrification and battery tech adoption in these transport categories (electric for smaller, short-haul vehicles and hydrogen for long-haul, freight).
IH2A would be happy to work with the government and co-lead creation of the Bharat H2 Industrial Group, and support a joint initiative by the Bharat H2 Heavy-Duty Transport Group.