Kerala to kick-start India’s ambitious green hydrogen mission

Kerala to kick-start India’s ambitious green hydrogen mission

IOC confirms talks to set up two hydrogen production and refuelling stations

India’s aggressive push for hydrogen energy will see its commencement from the state of Kerala since it has initiated talks with leading energy companies, such as Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), NTPC, GAIL (India), Bharat Petroleum Corporation, and Air Products USA, for producing green hydrogen from Cochin International Airport’s (CIAL’s) solar power facility.

This comes ahead of the Centre not coming out with any policy, despite the announcement of a National Hydrogen Mission. This paper reported recently that the Centre is planning to issue tenders, based on the ‘demand aggregator’ model.

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, in its latest Cabinet note, has proposed that the demand for green hydrogen from key sectors, such as fertiliser, steel, and refinery, would be aggregated and offered as a mega tender. It is yet to be finalised.

Kerala, however, has already drafted a road map to push hydrogen manufacturing in the state. It has also started discussions with the world’s largest fuel cell makers like Ballard Power Systems Inc. and HyGen.

“We are in talks with all those players, including IOC, NTPC, GAIL (India), and Air Products USA to manufacture hydrogen in Kerala. This is to fully utilise the 9.1-gigawatt renewable potential that we have in producing hydrogen. We are the first state in India to come up with a road map on using hydrogen as a fuel,” said K R Jyothilal, principal secretary (transport), Government of Kerala.

A senior IOC official confirmed the talks with Kerala to set up two hydrogen production and refuelling stations for the pilot programme on fuel cell vehicles.

Kerala is planning to issue a global tender to develop a green hydrogen manufacturing unit at CIAL. Kochi is the world’s first fully solar-powered airport with a total capacity of 40 megawatt-peak, helping it produce around 160,000 units of power a day, against its daily consumption of nearly 130,000 units.

CIAL also installed a floating solar power plant recently, with a capacity to produce 452 kilowatt-hour. The hydrogen produced from CIAL will be used to run Kochi Metro’s feeder buses.

Jyothilal said the state is in an advanced stage of talks with IOC regarding the CIAL plan, although the company’s board is yet to take up the proposal. After the meeting on Friday, the state may take a call on whether to invite a bid for the CIAL project, so that it gets aggressive pricing.

Interestingly, Air Products USA is working on the world’s largest green hydrogen project in Saudi Arabia now. “We are doing the first pilot at CIAL since it is generating solar, and excess power can be converted into hydrogen. We want to fully utilise Kerala’s water bodies and dams to generate solar power from floating facilities,” added Jyothilal.

This comes close to the heels of Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries announcing its ‘1-1-1 vision’ to bring down the cost of hydrogen to under ‘$1 per 1 kilogram in 1 decade’.

“This is almost like the initial days of solar power. We believe the prices of hydrogen and fuel cells will come down by 2030,” he added.

On the other hand, the research and development (R&D) to be conducted with the help of Toyota will look into factors like viability, roads, and climate conditions. As part of the first phase of the road map and R&D, a hydrogen vehicle by Toyota to be run on a trial basis between Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi is expected to arrive in the state on September 22.

Green hydrogen is produced using renewable energy and electrolysis to split water. This is different from grey hydrogen, which is produced from methane and releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and blue hydrogen, which captures those emissions and stores them underground to prevent them from causing climate change.

Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi in his Independence Day (I-Day) speech this year announced the National Hydrogen Mission, and said India would become the new global hub and exporter of green hydrogen.

“Not only will green hydrogen be the basis of green growth through green jobs, it will also set an example for the world towards a clean energy transition,” he said.

The PM also set the country a target of 2047 — when India would celebrate its 100th I-Day — to achieve self-reliance in energy production through a mix of electric mobility, gas-based economy, and doping ethanol in petrol to make the country a hub for hydrogen production.

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