India can no longer ignore or hide the fact that it has a serious pollution problem. Indian civilization has a rich cultural history. It pioneered breakthroughs in science, mathematics, philosophy and arts. Yet, today we have reached a stage where New Delhi regularly experiences periods of close to zero visibility due to pollution. And other major cities are not far behind in terms of unacceptable air quality. India has 13 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities. Shameful.
We could still argue on the significance of human activity in causing climate change and the risks it brings to mankind. We may argue who should take responsibility for global greenhouse gas emissions and who should pay to mitigate it going forward. However, does anyone argue that pollution is not a result of human activity? Does anyone want to argue against the fact that chronic exposure to high-level pollutants affects our health? Exponential increase in sales of air purifiers and pollution masks are indicators that we are treating the symptoms, not the disease.
Without question, we need to further accelerate solar and wind power generation wherever possible. And a lot of focus has been towards rural electrification through solar. These measures may not be enough to effectively address the urban pollution issue in a timely fashion. Our recommendation is to make initiatives that champion the transition of India to a sustainable Hydrogen Society a top national priority.
The above report was put together to highlight the proceedings at the 5th International Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Conference that was held from 11-13 December 2016 in Hyderabad, India. Distinguished stakeholders (national and international) from government, corporate and academia were in attendance. The event was organized by the Hydrogen Association of India (HAI) in association with International Association for Hydrogen Energy (IAHE), USA.
Here are the highlights that we captured through exclusive personal interviews:
Hydrogen is a proven energy carrier that compliments solar and wind power generation.
The need to create awareness and trigger a change in mindset towards a Hydrogen Society.
The need for a public-private-academic partnership to develop a Hydrogen Energy Roadmap.
Support for entrepreneurial activity through integration with Startup India campaign. Indian Oil (largest Hydrogen producer as an oil company) has already taken the lead on this.
The need for demonstration projects to take available solutions from laboratories to the real world and build confidence in using Hydrogen fuel in various sectors. Public transportation (buses) and telecom sectors are identified as feasible initial pathways for widespread usage of Hydrogen.
Lastly, there are cyber security gaps and privacy concerns with initiatives that integrate Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) with the energy grid. Transition towards a Hydrogen Society could provide a pathway for India to build an energy infrastructure with less focus on ICT. Hyper digital connectivity and excessive data gathering has grave national security implications.
Time for India to seriously commit to finding long term solutions for the pollution issue. Hydrogen Society maybe the best answer.