What is Green Hydrogen? Is it the Fuel of the Future? | Green Hydrogen- Detailed Analysis

7 min read

Recently there has been a great number of investments in Green Hydrogen since the launch of the Hydrogen Mission by the Government of India. Also, this positivity regarding Green Hydrogen is not only in India itself but is all around the globe as well. Moreover, Green Hydrogen is being considered as the “Fuel of the Future”. So, let’s move forward and discuss more about the concept of Green Hydrogen, How it is developing, and how global economies are responding to the same.

What is Hydrogen as a Fuel?

  • Hydrogen is a clean source of alternate fuel
  • It is a zero-emission fuel burned with oxygen and can be used in fuel cells.
  • At standard temperature and pressure, hydrogen is a nontoxic, nonmetallic, odorless, tasteless, colorless, and highly combustible diatomic gas.

Why Hydrogen?

Followings are the developments that are currently ongoing in the Green Hydrogen Space:

  • Around $11 Trillion infrastructure investments have been made for the opportunities in the next 30 years.
  • Around $70 billion global policy support has been provided for Hydrogen.
  • As of now, worth $300 billion Hydrogen projects are ongoing worldwide.
  • The Estimated cost of clean hydrogen by 2050 will be $2-$3 per kg.
  • It is estimated that 1 Kg of Hydrogen is equal to around 3k kg of diesel.
  • Due to all the positivity and favorable factors around, the Green Hydrogen market is expected to be worth ~$1 Trillion by 2030.

What is National Hydrogen Mission?

  • On 15 August 2021, the Prime Minister of India announced the launch of the National Hydrogen Mission (NHM) while commemorating the 75 years of independence to cut down carbon emissions and increase the use of renewable sources of energy.
  • National Hydrogen Mission aims to align these efforts with global best practices in technology, policy, and regulation.
  • The Government of India has allotted Rs 25 crore in the Union Budget 2021–22 for the research and development in hydrogen energy and intends to produce three-fourths of its hydrogen from renewable resources by 2050.
  • It aims to leverage the country’s landmass and low solar and wind tariffs to produce low-cost green hydrogen and ammonia for export to Japan, South Korea, and Europe.
  • India’s target for 2022 for renewable energy generation is 175 GW and this mission is expected to bolster the process.  The target for 2030 is 450 GW. And the country has set to decarbonize by 2050.
  • Using hydrogen will serve the twin purposes of achieving India’s emission commitments under the Paris Agreement and reducing the import dependence on fossil fuels.
  • The end-users of hydrogen energy are the transportation sector, chemical industry, and steel sector as these sectors contribute to 1/3rd of all greenhouse gas emissions because of their using fossil fuels.

Green Hydrogen & Piped Natural Gas (PNG):

  • The government of India has laid down plans for blending 15% of hydrogen with PNG for domestic, industrial, and commercial consumption.
  • The move aligns with India’s lofty goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2050.
  • This project is part of the government’s National Hydrogen Energy Mission, which aims to produce hydrogen from renewable energy sources.
  • A Hydrogen Purchase Obligation (HPO) mechanism has also been planned by the government under which, the bulk buyers such as Discoms and captive users have to buy a certain proportion of hydrogen out of their total power requirement.
  •  HPO will cover green hydrogen using industries like fertilizer plants and oil refiners. And the demand for green hydrogen HPO is likely to come from 2023.
  • The only disadvantage as laid down by the US Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is leakage risks due to hydrogen embrittlement which will weaken the metal or polyethylene pipes.

Roadmap to National Hydrogen Energy Mission

Source: India’s National Hydrogen Mission and Prospects for Cooperation with GCC by Lakshmi Priya

i) Phase – 1 (2021-2024):

Source: India’s National Hydrogen Mission and Prospects for Cooperation with GCC by Lakshmi Priya

  • The period between 2021 to 2024 will be a pilot phase where there will be market development, improvement of infrastructure & supply chain, investment in Research & Development (R&D), development of regulations & standards, and implementation of missions.

ii) Phase-2 (2024-2030):

  • Post Phase-1 i.e., 2024, there will be mass adaptation and commercialization of Green Hydrogen in different sectors.

Process of Electrolysis Powered by Green Energy:

Source: Internet

Firstly, Electricity is being produced by Wind Energy or Solar Energy, then comes the process of Electrolyser, which in simple words can be explained as separation of H2 (Hydrogen) and O (Oxygen) from H20. Then, Oxygen and Hydrogen will be stored separately, and now the hydrogen can be put into use on a different application. Since, the energy derived is from the renewable source of energy i.e., Wind Energy, etc., the output (Hydrogen) can be termed as Green Hydrogen.

Types of Hydrogen:

  • Green Hydrogen: Water electrolysis is used to produce it, and renewable electricity is used to power the process. The name “green” comes from the fact that it produces no CO2.
  • Blue Hydrogen: CO2 is caught and stored underground when it is derived from fossil fuels (carbon sequestration). The blue hydrogen manufacturing process is considered carbon-neutral because no CO2 is released.
  • Grey Hydrogen: Produced from fossil fuel and commonly uses steam methane reforming (SMR) method. During this process, CO2 is produced and eventually released into the atmosphere.
  • Brown/Black  Hydrogen: The black and brown colors correspond to the different types of coal: bituminous (black) and lignite (brown). Coal gasification is a method for producing hydrogen. Carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide are created as by-products and discharged into the atmosphere, making it a particularly polluting process.
  • Turquoise Hydrogen: Methane pyrolysis was used to extract the gas through thermal splitting. The procedure removes carbon in a solid form rather than CO2 gas, albeit it is still in the experimental stage.
  • Pink Hydrogen: Electricity from a nuclear power plant is used to electrolyze water.
  • Red Hydrogen: Produced via high-temperature catalytic water splitting with nuclear power thermal as a source of energy.
  • White Hydrogen: Naturally occurring hydrogen

Advantages of Green Hydrogen:

  • A renewable source of energy and found in abundance.
  • It is not a toxic source for human health unlike nuclear energy or energy from natural gas.
  • It is very dense in energy and hence highly efficient. It is three times more powerful than most fossil fuels.
  • For automobiles, hydrogen can be stored in tanks and used.
  • It is lighter than lithium-ion batteries making it ideal for long-haul trucks and commercial vehicles.
  • It also refuels very fast
  • A clean energy source as burning hydrogen does not produce any harmful by-products. It has a near-zero carbon footprint.

Disadvantages of Green Hydrogen:

  • Hydrogen is volatile and is a highly flammable substance due to its high energy content.
  • Hydrogen is an odorless gas that makes sensors necessary to detect leaks. This makes it a dangerous fuel.
  • Because of the complicated nature of the methods of production, hydrogen energy is expensive compared to traditional sources of energy and fuel, which makes its adoption a slow process.
  • Being a lighter substance, hydrogen is difficult to store and transport.
  • Even though hydrogen fuel cells are more energy-efficient than internal combustion engines, they are still less efficient than lithium-ion batteries.

Potential Uses of Green Hydrogen by 2040:

Source: Internet

It is expected that most of the Green Hydrogen produced by 2040 will be widely used in Mobility where 22% can be utilized in Passenger Cars, 10% in Heavy Duty Transport, and others. Other than mobility, Green Hydrogen can be utilized in Storage, Power, Heat, and Industry Energy units. Also, other than mobility, Green Hydrogen usage can take place very early in the Industrial Energy Unit due to the inconsistency in the current source of energy.

Global policies to encourage Hydrogen Economy

European Union:

  • Twenty-eight European countries signed the Linz Declaration “Hydrogen Initiative”
  • The EU targets 6 GW by 2024 and 40 GW by 2030, with a working assumption of 500 GW by 2050


  • Subsidies for each module in the hydrogen supply chain.
  • The goal of the subsidies on hydrogen refueling cost is to reduce hydrogen cost per 100km to be less than or on par with that of ICE vehicles.


  • Published a hydrogen economy roadmap with 2022 and 2040 targets for buses, FCEVs, and refueling stations
  • Vision to shift all commercial vehicles to hydrogen by 2025.
  • Provided financial support for refueling stations and eased permitting
  • Announced a technological roadmap for the hydrogen economy


  • Updated its Strategic Roadmap to implement the Basic Hydrogen Strategy.
  • The Development Bank of Japan joined a consortium of companies to launch Japan H2 Mobility with a target to build 80 hydrogen refueling stations by 2021.


  • Extended and enhanced the 45Q tax credit that rewards the storage of CO2 in geological storage sites
  • Added provisions to reward the conversion of CO2 to other products, including through combination with hydrogen.


  • Announced more than AUD 100 million to support hydrogen research and pilot projects.
  • Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) published a technical roadmap for hydrogen in Australia.


  • Draft National Hydrogen Energy Mission 2021
  • NTPC Vidyut Vvyapar Nigam to provide ten hydrogen fuel cell-based buses and cars in Leh and Delhi along with storage and dispensation facilities as a part of its pilot.
  • Indian Oil has floated a tender to purchase fifteen hydrogen fuel cell fitted buses that produce their electricity.


The world is currently going through a transformative stage where there is a focus on clean and green energy and tackling critical energy challenges. And with the push towards renewable sources of energy, Hydrogen is emerging as one of the leading alternatives. The pace of acceptance of Green Hydrogen across the globe and its advantages are astonishing, but there are some hindrances and limitations as well to this energy source, which can be taken care of with further developments. Hence, one should closely watch this space and the developments within it.

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