India’s vision of becoming a green hydrogen leader has come under scrutiny as the think tank Climate Risk Horizons expresses concerns regarding the nation’s ambitious goal to produce five million metric tons of green hydrogen annually by 2030.
While the green hydrogen mission holds promise, it also carries the risk of unintentionally contributing to higher carbon emissions if not executed with stringent energy accounting standards and safeguards.
In their report titled ‘Green Hydrogen: Promises and Pitfalls,’ Climate Risk Horizons highlights the critical issue of energy accounting and its potential impact on the environmental friendliness of green hydrogen. To achieve the 2030 target, India would need an enormous amount of electricity, estimated at around 250 terawatt-hours (TWh). This amount represents approximately thirteen percent of India’s current electricity generation. The challenge arises from the fact that seventy percent of India’s electricity is coal-based, which means that sourcing any portion of the required electricity from the coal-powered grid could lead to a significant increase in emissions.
While India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has established emission thresholds for green hydrogen production, the development of accounting and certification methods is still a work in progress. The effectiveness and integrity of this process are vital to ensure that green hydrogen production does not inadvertently include emissions originating from fossil fuel-driven electricity sources.
The think tank points out that the significant carbon footprint associated with green hydrogen production in India could not only harm the country’s global reputation but also limit its industries’ access to international markets and undermine public confidence in the transition to cleaner energy. To establish a dependable system, the carbon accounting approach should encompass Scope two emissions, which involve accounting for emissions generated by the electricity used in the green hydrogen production process.