Rajnath Ram, Energy Advisor, NITI Aayog, Energy News, ET EnergyWorld

New Delhi: Rajnath Ram, Energy Advisor at NITI Aayog, discusses the plans of the Green Hydrogen Think Tank, the state of India’s hydrogen policy and the country’s renewable energy target in an exclusive interview with ETEnergyWorld. Edited excerpts:

What are the new policies on which NITI Aayog is currently working in the field of renewable energies and green hydrogen?

We are dealing with electricity, oil and natural gas, even atomic energy. We launched the Indian Climate and Energy Modeling Forum. It is an India-led platform where all research agencies, think tanks, and modelers are engaged. It has a two-level structure with the steering committee and the inter-ministerial committee to provide guidance and contemporary issues are currently under discussion. We resume the exercise of detailed modeling and study. The idea was to create a working group to look at several issues – low carbon pathways, decarbonization, etc. We also try to secure funding for such projects.

The deliberations of this forum will lead to policy formulation. We also involved the respective ministries in this project because, at the end of the day, the study has to be integrated into the policy development. We are expanding the scope of this forum to include climate and economy as well. Thus, a detailed modeling exercise will be carried out to achieve COP26 and the net zero objectives. The policy resulting from this forum will provide a broad energy vision for the country. The forum will report back in 3-5 months. We will pilot it and then submit it to the respective ministries for their final comments.

Where is India’s plan to launch a hydrogen policy? Where are the stakeholder consultations at?

It is already under discussion, a stakeholder consultation has taken place and contributions have been collected from stakeholders. Interministerial consultations are underway.

Do you think that as a country we are doing the right things to ensure that we achieve a hydrogen cost of less than $ 1 per kg by 2030. Do you think that is possible?

It may be possible. A Bengaluru-based electrolyzer manufacturing company has already announced that it will reach $ 1 per kg of green hydrogen production by 2025. It is achievable.

Speaking of clean fuel and solar power, the solar rooftop segment hasn’t quite performed as expected. We’re missing the targets there. What could be the reasons?

I think there is huge potential in solar rooftops, but there are some issues like the subsidy component which was not provided to standalone solar rooftops. Currently, only networked interactive rooftop projects have received a 40% grant, but not stand-alone projects. We also need support for energy storage.

The residential sector has lagged behind and major installations have been carried out by industry and the commercial sector. Obtaining loans from banks is also a problem for residential customers, as banks ask for large collateral while the commercial sector, having a good balance, obtains loans easily.

It is believed that the new target of 450 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2030 will not be enough to meet India’s clean energy needs based on projected growth in consumption. What is your opinion ?

It’s true. But, there are also other aspects. First, per capita energy consumption in India is a third of the world average. So we have to think about which factor the energy consumption should increase. The other important aspect is that even if you add that much capacity, where are you going to consume it? All renewable generation, by its nature, must be integrated into the grid. For this integration, we need additional storage capacity and infrastructure. To reach these 500 GW, we must think about the decentralized mode of energy.

We should also think about green hydrogen in this area. If sufficient demand is created for hydrogen and if India can look for an export market, India can meet the 500 GW target, because green hydrogen has that kind of potential. Green hydrogen can easily deliver around 200 GW of this 500 GW RE target. If we are able to export green ammonia, we can tap into certain markets like in Asia. By 2030, it is expected that around 300 million tonnes per year will be needed for green ammonia. So India can respond to this market and once the export potential is increased India can quickly increase its renewable capacity.

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