India needs a sustainable hydrogen energy plan


NEW DELHI: In the light of the Supreme Court order on CNG for Delhi’s buses, US-based Krishna Sapru, an expert in hydrogen energy technology, has words of advice: No country, she said on Tuesday, can afford to be left behind in the movement away from fossil fuels. The costs of doing so may seem high but the costs of not doing so will be even higher, said Sapru at a curtain-raiser news conference for Science and Technology India 2002, a three-day international exhibition and conference starting Wednesday at Pragati Maidan — the first ‘‘comprehensive’’ event on green and cost-effective technologies where firms and government agencies will be exhibiting.

Sapru, thermal hydride products director of Energy Conversion Devices Inc., said the US has developed a national hydrogen vision and India needs to do the same. In the transition to clean, alternative fuels, she said hydrogen has been accepted globally as a clear winner — it is available in abundance, is non-polluting, economical and safe. India would never have to import it. It can be used for transportation, cooking and converted into electrical energy. India, said Sapru, has a chance to leapfrog in its energy infrastructure, as it has done in the telecom sector. With air quality a major concern in cities like Delhi, it is time, she said, to start the process of formulating a sustainable hydrogen energy plan.

Implementation would need the sustained support of government and global agencies but clean-fuel plans would create new industries and millions of high-quality jobs. ‘‘The benefits will be environmental and financial,’’ she explained. While other speakers focused on water management and clean alternatives for dealing with hospital waste, again big problems in India, organiser Exhibitions India’s managing director Prem Behl said environmental industries have grown to match the aerospace and pharmaceutical industries in size.

A $450 billion global market is expected to touch $ 640 billion in 2010, with close to $ 100 billion of this in developing economies. The Indian environmental market is expected to grow from $ 8 billion in 2000 to $ 14 billion in 2005. The exhibition, supported by various departments of government, aims to weave together applications in the areas of environment, water, industrial automation and instrumentation.