Green Hydrogen, A Game Changer in the Transition Towards a Low-Carbon Economy

Dr. Prateek Kanakia, speaks to Waste & Recycling MEA magazine about the potential of green hydrogen as an alternative to fossil fuels.

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Waste to Energy
May 15 2023
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India’s first waste-to-hydrogen plant is to come up in Pune. The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has engaged TheGreenBillions Limited (TGBL), a sustainability solutions provider, to utilise the city’s municipal solid waste to extract hydrogen for a period of 30 years. The plant, to come up at Hadapsar Industrial Estate in Pune, will treat 350 tonnes of municipal solid waste and is expected to produce over 14.5 tonnes of hydrogen per day. TheGreenBillions’s wholly owned subsidiary Variate Pune Waste to Energy Pvt. Ltd. (VPWTEPL) will be managing and utilising the municipal waste for generating hydrogen. 

TGBL is an emerging enterprise offering end-to-end sustainability solutions to industries, urban and rural centers. Its primary focus is on providing strategic technology and infrastructure solutions for decarbonization by large-scale adoption of hydrogen as both fuel and raw material. It is actively involved in sustainable assets development, project investment, business advisory, and clean technology research and development. TGBL aims to usher in cutting-edge innovation and research in the field of business and technology, by creating a self-sustaining ecosystem that thrives on clean and green energy. It is currently developing more than 100 clean energy and sustainable infrastructure projects across the globe, with a cumulative impact to reduce carbon emissions by more than 10 million MT CO2.   

The technology employed at the Pune plant has been developed while closely working with the Bhabha Atomic Research Institute (BARC) and the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru (IISc). This indigenously developed state-of-the-art technology will be used for extracting maximum value from waste and reducing the environmental impact of waste disposal. The solutions are well-researched, tested and implemented to dispose of all kinds of waste which could be processed to generate power, syngas, hydrogen and hydrogen-rich fuels. The Refuse Derived Fuel produced from the waste in the Pune project would later be utilised to generate hydrogen using Plasma gasification technology.

Dr. Prateek Kanakia, Chairman & Founder, TheGreenBillions Limited, throws light on the future of green hydrogen and how waste-to-hydrogen projects can solve waste issues in big cities in an interview with us: 

Tell us about your vision for TheGreenBillions 

TheGreenBillions Limited envisions playing a leading role in expanding the scope of sustainable development to every aspect of common life, disrupting the industry with radical steps in innovation and technology. With this initiative, I aim to create new-age sustainable solutions that may be commercialised for building climate resilience.

Why is it important for countries to invest in green hydrogen technologies at this point?

Green hydrogen is essential to meeting the sustainability goals. Several countries are directly supporting investment in green hydrogen technologies, as it could play a critical role in the global transition towards sustainable energy and net zero emissions economies. At this point, it is all the more important for countries to make these investments because it helps them reduce their dependence on imports of key commodities such as natural gas and petroleum. 

Green hydrogen power is gaining momentum. How promising does the market look for making this energy transition? 

Green hydrogen could be a game-changer in the transition to a low-carbon economy. The market for this transition looks promising as green hydrogen is a clean and versatile energy source that can be utilised in various applications, ranging from transportation to power generation. While green hydrogen power is gaining momentum, its global value chain is in its early stages and international cooperation and engagements could also further boost its adoption.  

The Indian cabinet recently approved the National Green Hydrogen Mission. What are the challenges and opportunities ahead of its way to become a green hydrogen hub? 

The National Green Hydrogen Mission has the potential to help India become a global hub for the production, utilisation and export of green hydrogen. It is a welcome move for making the country energy independent. However, there are certain issues associated with the adoption of green hydrogen, which include cost efficiency, logistics and transportation of hydrogen. Thus, new detailed guidelines can help with the proper adoption of a green hydrogen ecosystem. 

Waste-to-hydrogen is a win-win situation for climate protection and the waste management industry. How will it address the waste issues in Pune? 

We are currently developing the world's first commercial-scale municipal waste-to-hydrogen facility in Pune using indigenously developed technologies. In addition to treating MSW and producing hydrogen, this project will be equipped to convert organic fractions of waste into chemical-free organic fertilizers. This will help with waste management in Pune city and set a benchmark for a circular economy with hydrogen generated from the city’s waste and blended back into its gas distribution network.

Although a favourable method to reduce waste going to the landfills, waste-to-hydrogen projects have certain limitations such as the underlying cost and the processing requirement of a certain quantity of waste. What are the limitations and how can we address them?  

In addition to harnessing cost and processing requirements, hydrogen has other limitations, such as difficulty in storage and transportation due to low density, safety issues due to high flammability, and dependence on fossil fuels for production. Much research and innovation are needed to discover cheap and sustainable ways to harness this form of energy. There is also a need for funding and support for the regulatory ecosystem, along with measures for demand creation and financial support for manufacturing and infrastructure development.