View from India: Green hydrogen points the way to energy independence
Image credit: Getty Images
Prime minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort in New Delhi at the weekend. He unfurled the national flag to celebrate India’s 75th Independence Day. Here are some highlights.
A key takeaway of the Independence Day speech is that the country aims to be energy independent by the time it celebrates its 100th Independence Day in 2047. “Starting from here, the entire journey of the next 25 years, when we celebrate the centenary of Indian Independence, marks the Amrit period or Amrit Kaal of the creation of a new India. The fulfilment of our resolutions in this Amrit period will take us to the 100th anniversary of Indian Independence with pride,” said Modi, in his eighth Independence Day speech.
The prime minister urged the nation to scale up the production and consumption of green hydrogen, which is a cleaner alternative fuel. “The green hydrogen sector is going to give India a quantum jump towards clean energy. I am announcing a 'National Hydrogen Energy Mission' to achieve these goals,” added Modi.
The ambition is to make the country a global hub of green hydrogen production and exports. Of course, such initiatives can boost the country’s self-reliance in the energy sector. It’s also to do with the fact that the annual energy import costs the country over Rs 12 lakh crore. Thus, if there’s a policy in place, it could incentivise options for players to create green hydrogen solutions. It’s green, versatile and its only by-product is water. It can be stored in gas pipelines for a long time. When hydrogen is combined with fuel cells, the outcome is hydrogen fuel cells. What makes it different from the regular fuel cells is that doesn’t need to be recharged. Being energy efficient, it lowers carbon emission. Understandably, it finds diverse applications. For example, green hydrogen can power household appliances.
Today, India is also heavily dependent on crude oil imports. The government wants to make India a gas-based economy. This will also encompass a network comprising a nationwide compressed natural gas (CNG) and piped natural gas (PNG) network and to fulfil a target of 20 per cent ethanol blending. Earlier in the year, the PM emphasised the need for building a one nation, one gas grid. In the long run, this vision is expected to lower the prices of natural gas besides developing the natural gas pipeline network. Primarily, gas is required for transportation. If the price of natural gas is brought down, it could be an economic advantage to the country.
The prime minister has motivated the people to put their efforts towards the nation’s progress. “We have to work together for next-generation infrastructure. We have to work together for world-class manufacturing. We have to work together for cutting-edge innovation. We have to work together for new-age technology,” added Modi.
What is interesting is that the prime minister has guaranteed an e-commerce platform for women self-help groups, represented by over eight crore women living in the villages. Many of their products are sold in the village fringes or, in some cases, make their way into a few NGOs here and there. The government-led new platform has just been announced. It could well align with the ideology of ‘Vocal for Local,’ a sentiment that could make the products work for both domestic and global markets. Looking ahead, it could have stakeholders to regulate the e-commerce inflow and outflow. Natural resources may be crafted for use. Some rural women are already tech savvy and have the know-how of digital transaction. After all, the pandemic helped expand the community of online consumers.
The upcoming e-commerce platform can be a move towards bringing in a larger section of rural women into the tech fold. But then, some of them could be first-time users of smartphones. These devices will be their retail window to the outside world. Whatever the case may be, these women have a pulse on rural India. They may collate customer feedback and give real-time updates to the social e-commerce platform. This could change the way products are bought and sold and new business models could emerge from this.
Along with the rural women, Modi's Independence Day speech also touched upon the farmers. The government has pledged to build warehouses with facilities for farmers at the block level. This may help farmers upgrade their skills to improve the produce. Skill building would require a scientific approach as well as technology. Enablers may be in the form of mobile apps, tablets, green fertilisers, organic farming and smart tractors.
The objective is to develop a nation which is not just about world-class infrastructure, but also moves ahead with the mantra of ‘Minimum government; maximum governance.’ Perhaps here is a new opportunity. Governance could ring in a government-led collaboration with citizens as well as think tanks and companies. This could translate into employment opportunities. Avenues are projected to open up in ‘Gati Shakti.’ This national infrastructure master plan hopes to break silos within the economy, help fulfil the dreams of crores of countrymen and give birth to local entrepreneurs. This scheme has an allocation of over Rs 100 lakh crores and is expected to open out new employment opportunities for lakhs of youth.
These were only some of the announcements made by prime minister Modi in the course of his 90-minute speech. As Modi hoisted the Indian tricolour flag, two Mi-17 1V helicopters from the Indian Air Force (IAF) showered floral petals over the venue.
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