The petrochemical giant Petronas Malaysia to invest Rs. 31200 Crores on a Green Hydrogen plant in Mangaluru.
News in detail
Karnataka has signed a MoU with Petronas Malaysia, a renewable giant, to facilitate their investment of Rs. 31,200 Crores for establishing a unit to make green Hydrogen plant in the Mangaluru district. This futuristic project will change the face of the coastal city – of Mangaluru forever.
First let’s understand what’s the big deal about green Hydrogen
Green Hydrogen and its impact on planet earth
Green Hydrogen (GH) is the buzz going around the globe, as it is touted to be a substitute for oil and natural gas from earth. Extracting oil, natural gas, coal, etc from earth creates irreversible damage to the planet. So, if we want to PASS ON a safe and livable planet to our children/ grandchildren, then we should stop the exploitation of earth in the name of extracting oil, gas, coal, etc by finding a right alternative.
So, Hydrogen perfectly fits the bill, but again though Hydrogen is found abundantly in nature, it is always found along with other elements. For example Water (H20) – two parts of Hydrogen molecules are attached to one part of Oxygen atom. To separate Hydrogen molecules from Oxygen, we need to use a process called “Electrolysis” that consumes lots of power. However, the power can be produced using renewables – “solar”, “wind” and “hydropower”, which makes the power green. When green power is used to make Hydrogen, it is called green Hydrogen (GH).
The usage of GH results in “ZERO” emission. In case if it becomes a true replacement for oil, natural gas, coal, lignite etc, then within a span of 150/ 200 years, Earth can turn back to how it used to be till 300 years ago – a cleaner, healthier place to live.
Net zero economy
- Green hydrogen could be a critical enabler of the global transition to sustainable energy and net zero emissions economies.
- There is unprecedented momentum around the world to fulfill hydrogen’s long standing potential as a clean energy solution.
Green Hydrogen as fuel – cost is the limiting factor though
GH can be used as fuel to run all kinds of automobiles, trains, airplanes, large container ships etc. But the cost of GH is high and unaffordable for mass usage. When the cost to produce 1 tonne of GH drops below 1 USD, it will find wide acceptance. The trade pundits predict that it will happen by 2030. However, researchers and scientists are racing against time to make it happen by 2026/ 2027 timeframe.
When the world reaches this stage, planet earth would have more fresh air to breath with less pollution in the atmosphere.
Hydrogen fuel cells
A hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) is an electrochemical device that uses a chemical process to convert hydrogen to electrical power, which in turn can drive one or more electric propulsion motors in an HFC powered automobiles. Electricity, water and heat are the only products of this chemical process, which makes hydrogen an extremely clean fuel.
HFCs can be used in a broad range of applications. These range from powering buildings, cars, trucks, to portable electronic devices and backup power systems. Because HFCs can be grid-independent, they’re also an attractive option for critical load functions such as data centers, telecommunications towers, hospitals, emergency response systems, and even military applications for national defense.
Currently Ammonia is produced using natural gas, so production of Ammonia is highly polluting and it adds 10% to the overall global emissions. Since Ammonia is the main ingredient of all kinds of commercially produced chemical fertilizers, fertilizers factories emit a whole lot of emissions. However, the world depends on chemical fertilizer for food production, so in a way Ammonia contributes maximum to the pollution. Nevertheless, Ammonia can also be produced using GH (H2) by combining it with the nitrogen (N2) available naturally in the atmosphere, through a process called Haber’s process. The chemical reaction will result in Green Ammonia (GA), which when used in making chemical fertilizers, is much less polluting.
Green Ammonia can be used as fuel
GA can be used as a fuel: not only does it burn like GH, but it has a higher energy density than hydrogen and is easier to store and transport unlike hydrogen. GA produced using GH makes an effective candidate for use in the shipping industry. It can provide sufficient energy for long-haul voyages.
Ammonia as storage medium
However, Hydrogen gas is highly volatile/ inflammable and is dangerous to store. It can ignite easily if there is even a small leak to the atmosphere. So, it needs a relatively less inflammable storage gas as a medium, to make it less-dangerous to store and transport it (Hydrogen) all over the globe.
Ammonia can act as a storage medium for hydrogen – enabling it to be stored and transported over longer distances more easily.
In Japan, it is already considered the most viable carrier for hydrogen in storage tanks. GA can be used as a fuel as well as a carrier medium for hydrogen in stored tanks.
How will India benefit out of Green Hydrogen/ Ammonia?
India is in a peculiar stage where the Indian economy is growing fast and the revenues earned is spent heavily on buying crude oil from the Middle east. India is the third largest importer of crude oil and on a daily basis, we spend USD 5 billion (Rs. 40,000 Crores). Now imagine the number Rs 40,000 Crores x 365 – one year. It is said that nearly 85% of our oil needs are met from imports. That means, we import more than we export. In a way to say, we spend more than what we earn. This has to somehow reverse and only the mass adaptation of GH/ GA/ HCF in our daily lives will ensure that.
Atma Nirbharta in fuel production
So GH, GA, HFC etc will make India achieve Atma Nirbharta in fuel production using GH. India is also aggressively working on plans to produce bioethanol fuel from agricultural, domestic, commercial waste, as well as molasses from the sugar Industry. Bioethanol can be used as fuel to run automobiles.
If India can achieve this target, by 2030 India’s crude oil import bill will be bare minimum, and the net savings can be used for empowering Indians to lead a high-quality life.
Countries across the globe are in a race to transform their economies to “Net zero economy” through the usage of sustainable, emissionless energy. Each one of them has targets, some aim to achieve it in 2050, some others in 2060 and India wants to achieve it in 2070.
To meet this goal, India has to come up with policies that facilitate the transformation. Several states like TN, Andhra, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat have already signed deals with private companies to produce GH, GA, HFC, Bioethanol, Electric vehicle batteries etc.
If these goals are meticulously planned and executed, in 50 odd years from now, India will become rich with Indians enjoying high-living standards.