By Pritam Singh and Simon Pirani
Given the climate emergency our planet earth is facing, with accelerating global heating and devastating biodiversity loss, any initiative by a government which proclaims its aim as “greening the economy” deserves critical examination for both its importance and limitations.
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s announcement, on India’s 75th Independence Day, of the government’s plan to launch a National Hydrogen Mission is one such initiative by an emerging economic power in the global economy.
Its stated purpose was to make India a production and export hub for green hydrogen. This is also believed to be linked to India’s aim to reduce its reliance on oil from Russia and the Middle East which has come into the limelight during the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
That hydrogen is a problematic green energy resource as an alternative to fossil fuels is not generally recognised. This obfuscation characterises Indian government’s “green” hydrogen mission too.
Different types of hydrogen
Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, but for commercial use on earth it is produced either (i) from fossil gas, usually by steam reformation, or (ii) by the electrolysis of water. Electrolysis technology splits the hydrogen from oxygen in water.
More than 98% of hydrogen used commercially is “grey” – produced from gas. Left-over carbon is joined with oxygen and released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Global hydrogen production’s carbon footprint is about four-fifths the size of the aviation sector’s.Read the rest of this entry »