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Green hydrogen is not a holy grail of the energy transition

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Infrastructure/Environment


Source: DTE

 Context: According to a new report, contrary to its spotless reputation, green hydrogen is not the key to the energy transition.


Green hydrogen:

  • It involves splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using electricity from renewable energy sources like sunlight/wind.
  • It accounted for only 0.04% of globally produced hydrogen in 2021.


Limitations of the green hydrogen – dubbed as the ‘fuel of the future’:

  • Energy inefficient → 30% of renewable energy is lost while producing hydrogen.
  • Indirectly contributes to global warming → when it reacts with hydroxyl radicals (responsible for breaking down and eliminating methane – a potent GHG) → could lead to delayed climate action.
  • Large-scale production requires vast amounts of land, water and renewable energy, which could lead to human rights violations and energy poverty.


How is the world progressing with green hydrogen?

  • The European Union (EU): Intends to increase green hydrogen production capacity as part of the bloc’s REPowerEU plan to 20 million tonnes.
  • India:


Why (in spite of obstacles) are countries making progress with green hydrogen?

  • Fossil or grey hydrogen accounts for 99% of the globally produced hydrogen.
  • A huge lobby linked to fossil fuels is pushing the hydrogen agenda to lock in detrimental infrastructure, as well as production and consumption models.


Conclusion: The corporate-driven green hydrogen race unfolding in Europe follows centuries-old colonial patterns

  • Resources are being appropriated to fuel Europe’s economy,
  • While negative impacts like ecological damage and land conflicts are conveniently outsourced to the periphery (African countries).


Insta Links:

Powering the Amrit Kaal through an integrated approach to ensure energy security


Prelims Links: (UPSC 2019)

In the context of proposals to the use of hydrogen-enriched CNG (H-CNG) as fuel buses in public transport, consider the following statements:

  1. The main advantage of the use of HCNG is the elimination of carbon monoxide emissions
  2. H-CNG as fuel reduces carbon dioxide and hydrocarbon emissions
  3. Hydrogen up to one-fifth by volume can be blended with CNG as fuel for buses
  4. H-CNG makes the fuel less expensive than CNG

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 4 only
  4. 1, 2, 3 and 4

Ans: 2