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Leveraging India’s landmass and green energy sources for exporting green hydrogen is one of the steps for achieving energy sufficiency for the country, according to a draft proposal circulated by the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE), for the planned National Hydrogen Energy Mission said two people aware of the development.

The draft proposal, which recommends green hydrogen exports to Japan, South Korea, and Europe, also suggests setting up four integrated hydrogen hubs and running long-range public transport buses fuelled by hydrogen cells on heritage routes, remote locations, and ecologically sensitive zones. These are part of the recommendations for the proposed National Hydrogen Energy Mission (NHM).

Once the views of various stakeholders are received, MNRE will seek the Union cabinet’s approval for the NHM. The playbook involves leveraging the country’s landmass and low solar and wind tariffs to produce low-cost green hydrogen and ammonia for exports, thus bolstering the country’s geopolitical heft. The export strategy for carbon emission-free next-generation fuel has already been put into play by West Asian countries, Canada, Chile, and Australia.

The other proposed measures include facilitating open access to renewable energy, and to help low-cost production at hydrogen hubs. Open access allows large users of power, typically those who consume more than 1 MW, to buy power from the open market instead of depending on an expensive grid. However, this has not taken off yet as state governments have increased standard charges on open access renewable energy projects.

Green hydrogen gas is produced by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using an electrolyzer that may be powered by electricity generated from renewable energy sources. It is also being leveraged for applications in sectors such as chemicals, iron, steel, fertilizer and refining, transport, heating, and power.

“India’s plans are on a par with that of the other countries. The proposal has been drafted after a long consultation process. The draft has been circulated to the NITI Aayog, the Indian Space Research Organisation, the department of atomic energy, and relevant ministries such as power, petroleum and natural gas, steel, science and technology, road transport and highways, as well as the department for promotion of industry and internal trade," said an MNRE official, one of two the people mentioned above, on condition of anonymity.

This comes at a time when India, the world’s third-largest oil importer, is recalibrating its energy sourcing policy, keeping strategic and economic interests in mind. “The fuel has the potential to change the geopolitical dynamics for countries such as India, which are majorly dependent on energy imports," said the second person mentioned above, also requesting anonymity.

“The plan may also involve running public transport and commercial fuel cell buses having a 60,000 km annual range on a pilot basis on heritage routes, remote locations, and ecologically sensitive zones, wherein half of the demand is to be met from green hydrogen," the person said. India plans to build hydrogen plants that will run on electricity produced by green energy sources and help reduce dependence on fossil fuels. These plants will provide grid-scale storage solutions and feedstock for ammonia production.

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