India’s G20 presidency may shape hydrogen agenda

Many industries still use fossil fuels, but renewable energy is decarbonizing the electricity sector. Green hydrogen is the key to decarbonizing such sectors.

Japan, India’s close ally, put hydrogen on the G20 agenda during its 2019 chairmanship. India must use its G20 presidency to advance the green hydrogen debate.

Japan’s presidency commissioned an IEA hydrogen report. The analysis stated that governmental and business interest in hydrogen makes it the appropriate time to store and deploy hydrogen in industries, transport, shipping, aviation, electricity, and storage. It recommended long-term policy support to boost demand, research and development to boost supply, and standardization to boost use.

Saudi Arabia’s 2020 circular carbon economy goal based on blue hydrogen. However, expensive and inefficient natural gas with carbon capture produces blue hydrogen. Saudi Arabia advocated blue hydrogen at the G20, but it also pushed hydrogen as an energy carrier and international collaboration on hydrogen development and use.

Indonesia’s 2021 presidency returned to green hydrogen as a key to energy transformation and storage. Indonesia organized a panel discussion and investor forums with IRENA’s help to raise awareness of clean hydrogen’s role in Southeast Asia’s energy transition.

At the Business20 (B20) Summit, Pertamina Power, Keppel Infrastructure, and Chevron inked a collaborative study agreement to construct green hydrogen projects in Sumatra, Indonesia.

Hydrogen in India

India consumes 6 million tonnes (MT) of grey hydrogen, or fossil fuel-produced hydrogen, annually. Refining, fertiliser, steel, and methanol are low-hanging fruit for green hydrogen adoption.

India will increase its green hydrogen consumption with the expected renewable energy surge until 2030. The government aims to produce 25MT annually by 2047.

Green hydrogen could reduce carbon emissions by 3.6 gigatonnes and energy imports by US$246 billion by 2050, according to NITI Aayog and RMI. Grey hydrogen is used to make fertilizers, which requires approximately Rs1 trillion (US$12 billion at the current currency rate) in annual subsidies. The subsidies may exceed Rs2 trillion this fiscal year. Switching to green hydrogen would cut this fiscal expenditure easily. COVID-19 and geopolitical unrest have increased India’s energy security threats.

Green hydrogen growth-friendly policies

India announced the National Hydrogen Mission in 2021 to boost green hydrogen production and consumption. The Ministry of Power released India’s first green hydrogen policy on February 17, 2022. The policy reduces interstate transmission charges, banking fees, land acquisition, and renewable energy availability.

To increase supply, the government is considering green hydrogen and ammonia industrial zones. The Karnataka state government started the first green hydrogen cluster at Mangaluru port this year and would develop it over five years. Electrolyser production incentives are expected from the central government.

Hydrogen-focused G20 nations

Canada, the U.S., Italy, and Germany established green hydrogen policies in 2020.

In 2019, France, Australia, Korea, and Japan have hydrogen roadmaps. Japan had a hydrogen strategy in 2017. In 2021, the UK, Russia, and South Africa released hydrogen roadmaps. Brazil and Argentina developed low-carbon hydrogen policies in 2022.

In 2020, the EU adopted a hydrogen policy to boost local production and import 10MT by 2030. In 2022, China announced its first long-term hydrogen plan to produce 200,000 tonnes of green hydrogen by 2025.

These efforts promote clean hydrogen generation and imports worldwide. The G20 hydrogen roadmaps and initiatives emphasize international cooperation and involvement. Countries want harmonised worldwide certification and guarantee of origin programs to trade green hydrogen and invest in clean hydrogen.

Turkey and other G20 nations are drafting hydrogen policies. Mexico and Indonesia want green hydrogen but have no plan. By 2030, Saudi Arabia plans to manufacture 2.9MT of blue hydrogen.

Hydrogen discussion

Green hydrogen’s future depends on 2030. India’s G20 presidency may shape the hydrogen agenda with its green hydrogen objectives. India must prevent the global discussion on green hydrogen from pushing grey or blue hydrogen, which would tie production costs to high and fluctuating gas prices. Building a reliable international supply chain is also crucial.

India could also promote green hydrogen technology collaboration to lower costs and boost demand. India should also consider bilateral cooperation on the fringes of the G20, such the France-India hydrogen strategy, which emphasizes supply chain reliability. Finally, like other renewable energy sectors, India must use the G20 presidency to lead in green hydrogen.