Funding for Electrolyzer R&D Key to India’s Green Hydrogen Efforts

Experts shared their views at the Mercom India Renewables Summit 2023 in New Delhi


Green hydrogen has emerged globally as a critical element in decarbonizing the industry, especially for the hard-to-abate sectors. Industry experts agree that India could lead the world in producing affordable green hydrogen with ample support from the government and private sector investment investments in research and development (R&D) of electrolyzers.

As the global consensus towards net zero gathers momentum, the demand for green hydrogen and its derivatives is set to rise.

The green hydrogen pathway can be a crucial enabler for India’s aspirations of building a low-carbon and self-reliant economy. The government launched the Green Hydrogen Mission in January this year and allocated ₹197.44 billion (~$2.3 billion) for capacity development.

Mercom India brought together industry experts to discuss the criticality of green hydrogen in decarbonizing hard-to-abate sectors at the Mercom India Renewables Summit 2023,’ an exclusive event being held on April 26-27 in New Delhi.

At a session titled ‘Green Hydrogen – The Critical Piece in the Decarbonization Puzzle on Day 1 of the event, panelists discussed the challenges for India to emerge as a significant hub in producing this clean fuel.

The panel featured Dipesh Pherwani, a Scientist at MNRE; Chintan Shah, a Renewable Energy Expert; Shaji John, Head of Sales & B.D., South Asia, Middle East & Africa from Ohmium; and Kapil Maheshwari, E.D. and CEO of Welspun New Energy.

“To become a global hub for the manufacturing of electrolyzers, the states should follow supportive policies for manufacturing of green hydrogen. We need to be on top of technological advancements. There is every possibility that India can become a hub for electrolyzer manufacturing in the coming years,” Pherwani said.

He added that investment in R&D is a must for the green hydrogen ecosystem to grow. “We can also have a production-linked incentive (PLI) for the manufacturing of electrolyzers to be built to scale. Also, the interstate transmission system (ISTS) waiver will apply to green hydrogen projects until 2030.”

Shah pointed out the challenges in funding mid-size electrolyzer manufacturing companies on account of cost benchmarks and keeping pace with technological advancements. “Hydrogen and ammonia as a commodity are needed. There is a huge demand for ammonia in the domestic and global markets. Our main aims should be to unlock the domestic demand and prepare for global demand.”

John agreed that the green hydrogen opportunities are immense for India, but the challenges like shortage of skilled manpower, supply chain issues, and transporting green hydrogen need to be tackled.

“One of the solutions is to convert green hydrogen to ammonia and use it. This is a viable option and can be accommodated in the industry,” John said.

Choubey said that the non-alignment of Central and state-level policies posed a challenge to the industry. “Green Hydrogen has great potential, and we are heading in the right direction. But the same attitude needs to come from the states. Transmission of green hydrogen is an issue, and standardization is also a challenge,” Choubey added.

Kapil Maheshwari drew a parallel between the nascent stage of green hydrogen currently and the status of the solar sector ten years ago. “It has not been smooth sailing in the last two years, but things are improving. There are some issues, like the delivery timeline. Apart from that, high-pressure compressors are also not readily available. We need to evolve as a supply chain,” Maheshwari said.

Among the tailwinds for the development of a green hydrogen ecosystem in India, Maheswari listed lower production costs in India compared with Europe or the U.S., adequate land and maritime facilities, and the ability to implement large-scale projects.

“The only thing we can complain about is slow decision-making. There is no reason why India can’t take the lead in developing a robust green hydrogen ecosystem,” Maheshwari concluded.