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New Delhi: As a part of its energy security strategy, India plans to shortly kick-start its green hydrogen pathway by calling bids for 4 gigawatt (GW) electrolyser capacity.

According to a statement from the union power ministry on Friday, this was conveyed by union power and new and renewable energy minister Raj Kumar Singh to US special presidential envoy for climate John Kerry via a telephone call on Thursday.

This comes in the backdrop of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day speech announcing a National Hydrogen Mission.

“He (Singh) added that India would be conducting competitive bids for green hydrogen in next 3-4 months to pave the road for viable usage of hydrogen as a fuel. India is looking at bids for 4000 MW of electrolysers capacity," according to the statement.

In another development, “it was suggested that India and USA should work at setting up an alternate supply chain for lithium in order to secure inputs material for battery energy storage."

This assumes significance given that Chinese state-owned firms have already secured lithium mine concessions in countries such as Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile, which forms the so-called lithium triangle. 

The union government has announced a 18,100 crore production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme to make lithium-ion cells to promote e-mobility in India. However, India does not have enough lithium reserves for manufacturing lithium-ion batteries.

“The other countries need to come up with more electrolyser plants to bring down the costs," the statement said.

This energy security push comes at a time when India is spending 12 trillion annually to meet its energy needs. Green hydrogen is produced by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using an electrolyzer powered by electricity from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. It can be a game-changer for India, which imports 85% of its oil and 53% of gas demand.

With the current cost of green hydrogen produced by electrolysis estimated at around 350 per kg, the plan is to more than halve it to 160 per kg by 2029-30. The government also aims to extend the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for manufacturing electrolyzers to produce green hydrogen. India’s total hydrogen demand is expected to touch 11.7 million tonnes (MT) by 2029-30 from the current 6.7 MT.

Mint earlier reported that National Hydrogen Mission will bat for green hydrogen exports and geographical production zones. Given India’s major dependence on energy imports, the playbook involves leveraging the country’s large landmass and low solar and wind tariffs to produce low-cost green hydrogen and ammonia for exports, thereby bolstering India’s geopolitical heft.

“He (Singh) suggested to him (Kerry) that India and USA could work together in the areas of innovations for power and technology, pointing out the requirement of bringing down the cost of storage of renewable power. India is in the process of inviting bids for 4,000-megawatt-hour of battery storage," the statement said.

The government plans to call bids for setting up 4 GWh of grid-scale battery storage system at the regional load dispatch centres. India also plans to call bids for the largest global tender for setting up 13-gigawatt hour (GWh) grid-scale battery storage system in Ladakh, Singh told Mint in an interview earlier.

Large battery storages can help India’s electricity grids, given the intermittent nature of electricity from clean energy sources such as solar and wind. One GWh (1,000-MWh) of battery capacity is sufficient to power 1 million homes for an hour and around 30,000 electric cars.

“Mr John Kerry has congratulated India on achievements in renewable energy on reaching 146GW renewables with 63 GW under construction and 25 GW under bids," the statement said.

In what may strengthen India’s climate commitment credentials in the run-up to UN Climate Change Conference (COP-26) in Glasgow, its emissions have been reduced by 28% over 2005 levels, against the target of 35% by 2030. India on its part has urged the group of 20 nations (G20) having per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions above the global average to bring it down to the world average, thereby vacating ‘some' carbon space for developing nations.

“The Minister informed Mr Kerry about the recent milestone the country had achieved by crossing 100 GW in Installed Solar and Wind Capacity. If we add Hydro capacity also, the total installed renewable capacity is 147 MW. Further, 63 GW of renewable capacity is under construction which makes India one of the fastest-growing in terms of renewable capacity addition," the statement added.

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