Driving Future Growth: Skill Development in Hydrogen Takes Center Stage at 41st IPHE Steering Committee Meeting

The 41st Steering Committee Meeting of the International Partnership for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells in the Economy (IPHE), hosted by India in New Delhi during March 18 – 22, 2024 at Sushma Swaraj Bhawan, New Delhi.

The first day of the five-day meeting has been organized as IPHE Academic Outreach at IIT Delhi, on March 18, 2024, where the conference delegates provided valuable insights into the future of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.

Addressing the inaugural session on 18th of March 2024, Principal Scientific Advisor, Govt. of India, Prof. Ajay Sood pointed out that while hydrogen is not a very new technology, there is a need to work together to make it more economical and cleaner. He emphasized on the importance of skill development and R&D in the sector and mentioned that besides the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, various other Ministries of the Government of India are also taking efforts for adoption of Green Hydrogen. The Principal Scientific Advisor highlighted that the major areas of work in the hydrogen value chain include five components, namely, Production, Storage, Transportation, Distribution & Consumption.

Additional Secretary, Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, Shri Sudeep Jain highlighted the importance and challenging nature of climate change. He emphasized the work, collaboration and partnership that would be required from academia and research institutes for facilitating energy transition and development of the hydrogen sector. He mentioned about the importance of moving away from grey hydrogen and bringing about a larger share of green hydrogen.

Vice-Chairperson, IPHE, Mr. Noe Van Hulst mentioned India as an economic powerhouse, an engine of global economy and a decisive actor in shaping the clean energy future. He put emphasis on the requirement of skills, educational outreach and Research & Innovation in shaping the future of Clean Hydrogen and the role of academia in this regard.

Dean (R & D), Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, Prof. Naresh Bhatnagar highlighted the involvement of IIT Delhi in R&D of vehicles run on hydrogen, for the past two decades. He informed about courses offered by the institute at undergraduate, masters and PhD levels on various subjects in energy systems and also about the R&D being conducted at IIT Delhi on high-pressure storage at 750 bar Hydrogen cylinder.

Chief Executive Officer, Avaada Group, Shri Kishor Nair talked about India’s and other countries’ initiatives towards Energy Transition and their Net Zero commitments. He also requested Academia, Research & Innovation fellows to come forward with technology ideas to make hydrogen production, storage, transportation and applications more efficient and cost-effective.

In his welcome remarks, Joint Secretary, Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, Shri Ajay Yadav mentioned the importance of Green Hydrogen as an alternative fuel of the future and highlighted the steps being taken by the Government of India for promoting green hydrogen under the National Green Hydrogen Mission.

The IPHE Academic Outreach also featured two insightful panel discussions out of which the panel discussion titled “Empowering Expertise: Cultivating Skill Development in the Clean / Green Hydrogen Arena,” focused on development of the knowledge and skills necessary to thrive in the clean / green hydrogen sector. The panel highlighted the requirement of skilled personnel in the field of Green Hydrogen, requiring different sets of safety, security and regulatory standards. The need for new skill interventions for the thematic areas and for hands-on training for the green hydrogen sector was also highlighted by the Panel.

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The second and third days, i.e., March 19 and 20, 2024 were reserved for formal proceedings of the 41st Steering Committee Meeting. On the first day of formal proceedings of the Steering Committee, Vice Chair, IPHE, Dr. Noe Van Hulst in his opening remarks appreciated India’s National Green Hydrogen Mission and also lauded the hospitality and gracious welcome extended by India for IPHE delegates.

IPHE delegates from Austria, Chile, France, European Commission, Japan, Germany, Netherlands, UAE, UK, US, Singapore and South Korea, besides delegates from host country India, participated in the Steering Committee meeting and discussed a wide range of issues concerning deployment of Green Hydrogen and its derivatives. The committee touched upon initiatives being taken for Green Hydrogen at international level, including in Glasgow Breakthrough Agenda, Hydrogen Energy Ministerial, Clean Energy Ministerial, H2 Initiative, Clean Hydrogen Mission Innovation, G7 Hydrogen Action Pact, G20, COP28, International Energy Agency, etc., and discussed opportunities to collaborate with these international initiatives to meet IPHE goals and objectives.

The Committee deliberated upon the progress made by various working groups (WGs) and task forces (TFs) and suggestions including next steps were provided by IPHE Delegates for further strengthening the work of these WGs and TFs. The IPHE has WGs on “Regulations, Codes, Standards & Safety (RCSS)” and “Education & Outreach”. The TFs are on “Hydrogen Skills”, “Hydrogen Production Analysis”, “Hydrogen Certification Mechanisms” and “Hydrogen Trade Rules”.

Taking it forward on other days, the delegates presented their respective country updates on R&D, key policy developments and initiatives taken by their federal and provincial governments on Hydrogen. The delegates mentioned national clean Hydrogen strategies; research and development initiatives related to Hydrogen production, storage and transportation; status of demand creation, infrastructure development, supply and demand at scale, and upskilling of workforce.

The committee deliberated upon business models for transportation, production and storage of Hydrogen, possibilities of international collaborations and partnerships in various areas to create a robust Hydrogen economy. The delegates also deliberated on regulatory framework, methodology for detection of emission savings, creation of dedicated Hydrogen infrastructure and markets, Hydrogen banks and import-export corridors. Public awareness, ease of doing business and high-efficiency and low-cost approaches too figured in the discussions.

The committee also reviewed decisions and actions from the 40th Steering Committee. Membership of IPHE was also discussed. It was suggested that membership should be promoted to ensure wider participation of the international community, including the countries from the Global South.

It was agreed that the European Commission will host the 42nd Steering Committee during European Hydrogen Week scheduled in November this year.

Chair of the Committee urged all stakeholders to adopt bold measures to accelerate deployment of green Hydrogen in all possible sectors of economy on a priority basis.

In addition to the formal proceedings, cultural evening was hosted for the IPHE delegates.