The potential of cheaply, cleanly produced hydrogen can turn India into an energy exporter, reducing its dependence on imported fossil fuels

In the ‘Grand Keynote’ address at the TiE Sustainability Summit, hosted by the Hyderabad chapter of The Indus Entrepreneurs, a non-profit founded in Silicon Valley in the early-1990s with the aim of “foster[ing] entrepreneurship”, Gautam Adani, chairman of the Adani Group, described India as the “most exciting investment destination on the planet.” With over 40,000 registrations making this the largest event of its type connecting social enterprises with entrepreneurs, Mr. Adani outlined the possibilities opened up by India’s progress in generating renewable energies and potentially catalyzing a hydrogen economy where India could get a head start.

Mr. Adani explained, India now finds itself among the leading countries that can enable and profit from a green energy revolution. The Adani Group is investing heavily in renewable energies, tripling its solar capacity over the next four years and improving its wind-generated power capabilities to such an extent that it expects to be the world’s largest renewable power-generating company by 2030.

Gautam Adani lauds India as the most exciting investment destination on the planet

Renewable energy is being produced in larger quantities and at cheaper rates than ever before, with capacities only set to rise and costs reduce. The implications for the production green hydrogen — “the ultimate source of dense green energy”, in Mr. Adani’s words — are obvious. “While there are challenges to be addressed”, he added, “I am confident that we are on the cusp of a hydrogen-driven revolution that can transform India, green India and energize India at a price point lower than what we pay today. This is nation-building at its best.” The production of clean hydrogen, in keeping with the government’s ‘National Hydrogen Mission’, as announced on Independence Day, will strengthen India’s basket of alternative energies. It is, Mr. Adani said, the “key link” that could enable India to become an “exporter of green energy”, a prospect that was “impossible to even contemplate just 5 years back.” Vast amounts of green power can both contribute towards India achieving its net zero goals while enabling the economic aspirations of Indians, particularly in rural areas. The low-impact development promised by the intersection of renewable energy and green fuels with technologies, including AI, will propel India towards becoming a 28-trillion-dollar economy by 2050, as Mr. Adani predicted in his address at last year’s summit. In fact, he said, “I now think I may have understated my 2050 GDP projection”.

Bullish, as always, about India’s economic potential and future growth, Mr. Adani said that the “convergence of sustainability and digitization will put in place new disruptive business models that will create the next set of unicorns.” Remarking on the presence at the TiE summit of representatives of the governments of Israel and Costa Rica, Mr. Adani said the two nations were the “perfect representation” of two crucial themes in the “ongoing global conversation”—sustainability and “how technology can bring about sustainability”. Costa Rica’s commitment to preserving its remarkable biodiversity means it meets 98% of its energy needs through renewable sources, while Israel is a leader in entrepreneurship and technological innovation. Mr. Adani said the urgency of the climate crisis would spur digital and technology-driven solutions.

“It is my belief”, he said, “that the Covid 19 pandemic has forced us to find the will to kickstart a massive ESG-driven economic transformation.” Trillions of dollars of investment will become available to those countries and companies that offer viable, sustainable solutions to mitigate climate change while continuing to meet the ordinary human aspiration for economic development. For India, as Mr. Adani explained, such considerations are particularly pressing because of the so-called demographic dividend, the population factors that mean over the next few decades India will boast the largest and youngest middle class in human history. By 2050, India’s per capita income will be one-third of the per capita income of the United States, an “astonishing rise” from the current level of about one-thirtieth of US per capita income. The consumption demand of this newly middle class Indian population will be huge and can be most equitably met, while remaining responsible global citizens, only by a large-scale switch to green energy.

Fortunately, Mr. Adani concluded, India is set up to become “one of the largest green hydrogen producers in the world” and as such will attract enormous investment capital and contribute significantly to the creation of a greener, more equitable global economy. Covid 19 may have vaccines to help us fight its effect, he noted, but climate change has no vaccine! Green hydrogen might come close.

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