Manoj Gupta, Fortum India, Energy News, ET EnergyWorld

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The green hydrogen industry is in its infancy in India and around the world. Manoj Gupta, solar vice president (India and Asia) of clean energy company, Fortum in India, recounts ETEnergyWorld that his company will certainly be one of the investors that catalyzes the green hydrogen revolution in the country. Gupta has over 23 years of experience in the industrial and renewable energy sector. Edited excerpts:

Tell us about your prospects for green hydrogen for the next 5-10 years.
According to the latest update of India’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), by 2030, 50% of our country’s energy needs will be met from renewable sources, and the non-fossil fuel capacity is to reach 500 gigawatts. Green hydrogen and its expansion are essential to achieve these goals. Fortum is built on the idea of ​​creating a cleaner world by providing the necessary building blocks to make it happen. Although solar power is at the forefront of our operations, we always follow the market trend. There is a lot going on in the market right now and a lot of talk about future technologies, including the production of green hydrogen. Fortum also follows the market and develops its skills according to future market demands. We believe that the production of green hydrogen will also take center stage in India over the next 5-7 years and that we will also be one of the first to produce green hydrogen.

What are your green hydrogen investment plans for this period?
Several Indian companies are evaluating the future of green hydrogen and announcing some of their immediate plans for the next 3 to 5 years. However, we believe the market is still immature and may take some time to evolve. The industry is waiting for the hydrogen mission document to be released by the government and hopefully we’ll see action in the market. We will certainly be part of that list of investors that is catalyzing the green hydrogen revolution in the country.

Do you have plans for storage and transportation? Can you share some details?
The main methods of transporting and storing hydrogen are cryogenic liquid tankers. The problem, then, is that India is a hot country and cryogenic liquid tankers require extremely low temperatures for their livelihood, which would consume as much energy as the supply itself. Gaseous trailer tubes are another viable option for storage and transportation and are worth investigating. These trailers are shaped like tubes and store hydrogen gas at incredibly high pressures, which is certainly more achievable than cryogenic tankers. I think producing hydrogen for consumption will be the most feasible option.

Where do you see India as a green hydrogen market in the coming years?
By launching the National Green Hydrogen Mission, India is competing to become a world leader in the production and global supply of green hydrogen. Aligning with the same, companies across India have started switching to green hydrogen from other energy sources, thus already pushing India to the forefront of this revolution. The goal should ideally be to reduce the cost of green hydrogen to make it more accessible to everyone instead of being available only to those who can afford it. Higher costs are a major obstacle to the growth and diffusion of green hydrogen, making it less economical for most. In the years to come, India is expected to be able to supply green hydrogen per kilogram at lower prices, thereby catalyzing the green hydrogen revolution to high standards.

What do you think is the first and most important step towards strengthening the green hydrogen market in India?
The first and most important step towards strengthening the green hydrogen market in India would be to put in place the necessary infrastructure required for it. This is the acceleration of the installation of electrolysers in the country. Union Minister Khuba has already announced the upcoming launch of the program to boost research and development of electrolysers in the country and this in itself is the necessary step that green hydrogen needs for its initial boost. Following this, achievable targets would be set for various industries to adopt green hydrogen, bolstered by appropriate incentives and subsidies for its promotion.

What do you think about the cost competitiveness of electrolyzer technology? Where is India at?
At present, perhaps due to the newness of the technology, green hydrogen is much more expensive than other fuels. This can be problematic as the cost of fossil fuels is increasing day by day, and the cost of green hydrogen technology and electrolyser exceeds the same. The goal should be for the expansion of green hydrogen to reach the stage where prices can be lowered to a level more affordable for ordinary people. Compared to sources like solar and wind which require higher installation costs, after which maintenance is relatively cheaper, hydrogen requires a sustained cost and reduction of it is imperative. India, however, is only at the starting line and has a long way to go with the same, with the creation of demand as well as supply. This is the kind of progress India must see over the next few years.

What are your government demands for upcoming tenders?
A clear vision document. Initially, for the first 10 years until 2050, so that the industry, manufacturing and the investment community can develop their long-term strategy. Demand has to be created first, there has to be a secure long-term buyer of green hydrogen. Manufacturing incentive programs will be put in place to make India a global manufacturing hub from day one of this program. Finally, a strong regulatory framework must be created keeping in mind the interests of investors.


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