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New Delhi: Union power minister Raj Kumar Singh on Sunday said that countries should come together and work towards making hydrogen fuel cells more efficient in a bid to move towards hydrogen-based economies.

In order to boost investments and set up renewable energy facilities in developing and under-developed countries, including those in Africa, Singh said there would be requirements for a credit guarantee fund and a renewable energy bank. He also stressed on the need for easier technology transfer to accelerate the pace of energy transition.

He was of the view that in order to move toward a hydrogen-based economy, the efficiency of fuel cells is critical.

Speaking at a roundtable with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen and industry players in the renewable energy space at the headquarters of International Solar Alliance in Gurugram, he said, “We are working on it, some fuel cells have been developed and this again is something the world has to share. We have to get together and share the best technologies. If we look at it only from the commercial point of view, keep the best fuel cells with ourselves, license it and charge huge royalties, then the pace of transition will not be fast enough."

Fuel cells can be used in a host of sectors including transportation, industry and energy storage.

The call from the minister comes at a time when the government is trying to boost green hydrogen production in the country and also popularise the hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles.

Following the National Hydrogen Mission announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 15 August, the power ministry unveiled the first part of the new green hydrogen policy this February.

Singh also emphasised the need for a global approach to fighting climate change and urged the developed countries to contribute more towards the transition towards clean energy. He said that India has made massive strides in energy transition and added 163 GW of renewable energy by November 2021, despite the country’s per capita emission being “one-third of the world average".

“The problem confronting the globe is not something which can be solved by one country alone and it is no problem which will be solved if even if 10 or 20 countries reach net zero (carbon emission). You can’t have a countrywide solution, you have to have worldwide and international solutions," said Singh, who is also the President of the ISA General Assembly.

Noting that India is betting big and investing in green hydrogen, Singh said that the high cost of green hydrogen needs to be addressed and the cost of electrolysers will come down with the addition of volume. He reiterated that all countries should come together to solve the issue of cost and make green hydrogen more accessible for countries across the globe including the developing and underdeveloped countries.

While outlining India’s efforts towards energy transition and steps to boost domestic manufacturing for clean energy technologies, he called for greater contribution from developed countries and said: “We would expect the developed world, who seem to be now very committed to energy transition and reducing emissions... but if that commitment is actually going to be real then these are the things which need to be addressed and we expect the European Commission to be a large part of it."

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen also said that cooperation in the green hydrogen space is a major topic in Europe. She was of the view that India and the European Union are closely aligned in the fight against climate change and said that both countries are aware that solar energy would play a decisive role in the path toward carbon neutrality.

Talking of the need to move faster toward renewable energy, the European Commission President said that along with thwarting climate change, Europe also is looking at curbing imports from Russia and becoming self-dependent.

“For us Europeans, it is a stark reminder that our dependence on Russian fossil fuels is not sustainable, because how can you do business with someone who openly threatens Europe and wages war against one of your closest neighbours. So our transition to homegrown renewable energy is not only good for the environment, but it also becomes a strategic investment in security," she said.

Russia has been at war against Ukraine for two months now and its invasion has brought about criticism and condemnation from the west including the US and European Union. Russia caters to a majority of Europe’s energy requirements and after the ban on Russian oil and gas by the US and the announcement of a gradual phase-out of the imports by Britain, there is anticipation that the European Union also is looking at banning energy imports from the country.

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