OPINION: The making of the future hydrogen economy: Green or Blue?

OPINION: The making of the future hydrogen economy: Green or Blue?

As the world looks to decarbonize and reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, clean hydrogen as a fuel is becoming an increasingly compelling option to decarbonize the hard to decarbonize industrial, heating, and transport segments of the economy. Hydrogen is an energy-dense fuel and emits zero carbon dioxide when it is used, and therein lies its appeal in producing clean industrial chemicals like carbon-free ammonia and methanol, powering heavy transport, making zero-emissions steel, generating clean power to supplement renewables, and blending in natural gas grids for fuel. India’s growing industrial economy has the unique opportunity to harness clean hydrogen at scale to not only transform its industry, power, and heavy transport segments to low carbon operations, but also importantly, to substitute much of the imported crude derivatives, natural gas, coke and chemicals with hydrogen for enhanced energy security and self-sufficiency.

Clean hydrogen can be produced through the splitting of water using renewable electricity, called green hydrogen. It can also be produced through the gasification of coal or conversion of natural gas while capturing the carbon dioxide through carbon capture, called blue hydrogen. The idea of green hydrogen is very attractive and has captured the imagination of the world and India alike, where low-cost hydrogen can be produced based on limitless energy from the sun & wind, and water using water-splitting technologies called electrolyzers. Blue hydrogen, on the other hand, has drawn mixed reactions and ire of the green fundamentalists who blame that it is a disguised attempt to keep fossil fuels alive and a bane for sustainable technological progress.

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