Alternate source of energy – evolution of India’s hydrogen economy

India is one of the sixteen founding members of the International Partnership on Hydrogen Economy (IPHE) – an international governmental body currently consisting of 19 member countries and the European Commission – established in November 2003. At the inaugural address of this organisation, in Washington, the then Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission & Chairman of PM’s Task Force on Infrastructure, Krishna Chandra Pant made a prophetic address saying, “Based on current road maps developed by its votaries, Hydrogen could become the world’s leading energy carrier by 2040 with commercial transport and utility applications, and the necessary supply infrastructure, beginning to take root as early as 2020.”

In 2006, India’s National Hydrogen Energy Board, headed by the Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata, developed a roadmap to have 1 million hydrogen-powered vehicles and 1,000 MW of Hydrogen Power through hydrogen-fuelled plants by 2020. Ratan Tata’s ambitious roadmap entailed an investment of Rs 25,000 Cr and examined different aspects of problems including production, storage, transport, delivery, applications, safety, standards and codes, capacity building and awareness.

Ratan Tata proposed two major initiatives to the then Minister of Non-Conventional Energy Sources (now known as Ministry of New & Renewable Energy), Vilas Muttemwar, the Green Initiative for Future Transport (GIFT) and Green Initiative for Power Transmission (GIP).

By 2007, Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources had successfully implemented demonstration projects through PSU-Private Partnership, launched several R&D projects, strengthened the Hydrogen Energy Centre at Varanasi and set up a National Fuel Centre in New Delhi, under the guidance of Ratan Tata.

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