Expert Panel, Energy News, ET EnergyWorld

New Delhi: A government-appointed panel has suggested that India has sufficient potential to produce hydrogen from domestic coal and the country should strongly pursue this option. This is gaining prominence following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of the hydrogen mission on India’s 75th Independence Day.

Hydrogen is a clean fuel and can serve as a possible substitute for liquid and fossil fuels. It is also the most abundant element in the universe, constituting more than 90% of all known matter.

“India has the opportunity to produce hydrogen from domestic coal and we could aggressively pursue this option in our global hydrogen ecosystem,” the panel said in its report on the sheet. of road for the production of coal with hydrogen.

The panel also suggested setting up a few semi-commercial gasification units to convert coal into hydrogen.

Integrating carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) units with gasification, he said, can be explored so that the blue hydrogen thus produced is more palatable.

“Gasification technologies may be selected based on assessment of the potential for eventual commercial scale-up and maintaining the option of co-gasification of biomass with coal subject to the availability of biomass in close proximity to these gasification units,” the panel said.

Coal gasification units should be installed near hydrogen demand centers or near coal mines.

The cost of transporting hydrogen would be high at present and it was therefore necessary to consider the economics before deciding on the location of gasification plants.

“Alternatively, we could establish the plants closer to the natural gas network so that the hydrogen thus produced can be injected to a certain extent, that is to say up to 18-20% in the gas pipelines, as for the extent to which hydrogen injected into natural gas pipelines may not require the pipelines to be modified,” the panel recommended.

This, he said, will facilitate the use of hydrogen produced from coal in industries currently using imported natural gas.

The Coal Ministry had previously said that coal had not been promoted elsewhere due to concerns that when extracting hydrogen via coal (moisture embedded in the coal) there could be carbon emissions.

Currently, hydrogen is mainly used in refining – to remove sulfur from crude oils – and in the production of fertilizers, except for minor uses in other sectors such as chemicals, textiles and electronics.

Total hydrogen demand in 2021 was around 6.7 million tonnes, of which around 54% or 3.6 million tonnes was in oil refining, three million tonnes in fertilizer production and 0.1 million tonnes in gas-based DRI (Direct Reduced Iron).

Hydrogen demand in the country is expected to reach 11.7 million tons by 2030, including 6.8 million tons in refineries, 4.6 million tons in fertilizers and about 0.3 million tonnes in DRI steelmaking.

Looking to the future, hydrogen has a number of potential applications that could be greatly expanded across a range of end-use sectors, from transport to electric power to industry. For example, hydrogen can be used in fuel cells to power passenger and commercial vehicles, heavy trucks, buses, trains and river vessels.

Demand is projected to increase to around 28 MT by 2050, driven by cost reductions in key technologies, as well as the growing imperative to decarbonize the energy system. Demand will continue to be largely concentrated in industrial sectors, either expanding into existing sectors such as fertilizers and refineries, or expanding into new sectors such as steel.

Hydrogen can also be stored for use in power generation to manage the load in electrical systems when intermittent renewables are not available.

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