Green Hydrogen boost: Sugar factories can contribute significantly to India’s green energy transition

As India accelerates its transition towards a low-carbon future, the sugar industry finds itself at a pivotal juncture. The World Bank has recently approved a $1.5 billion loan to support India’s green hydrogen plans and accelerate low-carbon energy development. This funding provides a unique opportunity for sugar factories to contribute significantly to India’s green energy transition as well as to enhance its additional income and achieve its sustainability.


Challenges Faced by Sugar Factories:

a) High Operating Costs: Sugar factories in India often struggle with high operating costs due to factors like labor, energy, stagnant MSP of sugar since 2019 and raw material expenses.

b) Cyclical Nature of Sugar Prices: The sugar market experiences price fluctuations, impacting the profitability of factories.

c) Debt Burden: Many sugar factories carry significant debt, affecting their financial stability.


a) Diversification: Sugar factories can diversify their income sources by investing in green hydrogen and renewable energy projects.

b) Government Initiatives: India’s National Green Hydrogen Mission provides incentives for green hydrogen production. Sugar factories can participate in this mission.

c) Renewable Energy Potential: Sugar factories often have large land holdings. They can utilize this land for solar or wind energy projects.


a) Project Proposals: Sugar factories should prepare detailed project proposals for establishing green hydrogen and renewable energy plants.

b) Collaboration: Collaborate with experts, research institutions, and energy companies to design feasible projects.

c) Loan Application: Apply for the World Bank loan through relevant channels, demonstrating the project’s viability and impact.


a) Additional Revenue: Income from green hydrogen and renewable energy can supplement sugar production revenue.

b) Sustainability: By adopting clean energy, sugar factories contribute to environmental sustainability.

c) Job Creation: New projects create employment opportunities in the energy sector.

Remember that each sugar factory’s financial situation varies, so customized strategies are essential. Engaging with financial advisors and industry experts will be crucial for successful implementation.

5) EXPECTATIONS FROM CENTRAL GOVERNMENT TO ACCESS WORLD BANK FUNDS TO ESTABLISH GREEN HYDROGEN AND RENEWABLE ENERGY PLANTS: To access World Bank funds for establishing green hydrogen and renewable energy plants, the Indian government may help to the sugar factories by taking the following steps:

a) Policy Framework: Develop clear policies and regulations that encourage investment in green hydrogen and renewable energy.

b) Provide incentives, subsidies, and tax breaks to attract private sector participation.

c) Project Identification: Identify suitable locations for green hydrogen and renewable energy projects.

d) Prioritize areas with abundant renewable resources (solar, wind, etc.).

e) Project Proposals: Prepare detailed project proposals, including feasibility studies, cost estimates, and expected benefits. Highlight the environmental impact and economic advantages of these projects.

f) Collaboration: Collaborate with industry experts, research institutions, and international organizations.

g) Seek technical assistance and knowledge sharing.

h) Capacity Building: Train local workforce in green energy technologies. Build capacity for project implementation and maintenance.

i) Transparent Processes: Ensure transparent and efficient processes for project approval and fund allocation. Regularly monitor project progress and outcomes.

Remember that successful implementation requires coordination between the central government, state governments, and relevant stakeholders.

6) PRESENT DEMAND AND SUPPLY POSITION OF GREEN HYDROGEN AND RENEWABLE ENERGY IN INDIA: Let’s delve into the current demand and supply position of green hydrogen and renewable energy sources in India:

1) Green Hydrogen Demand: India aims to produce at least 5 million tonnes of green hydrogen by 2030 through its National Green Hydrogen Mission. The projected overall hydrogen demand in India by 2030 is 11 million tonnes, with a target for 5 million tonnes to be met by green hydrogen. If achieved, this green hydrogen production will result in the abatement of 28 million tonnes of CO₂ emissions3.

2) Renewable Energy Supply: India’s abundant renewable energy potential, especially solar and wind power, can support green hydrogen growth. The country plans to add 125 GW of renewable energy capacity associated with green hydrogen production. However, additional capacity is required to generate green hydrogen while meeting India’s electricity needs.

Challenges and Opportunities: Green hydrogen production requires substantial renewable energy for electrolysis. India must address cost challenges related to renewable energy, electrolyze costs, and transportation. To achieve the 5 million tones target, India needs approximately 50 billion liters of fresh water and 250 billion kWh of electricity from renewable sources.

In summary, India’s green hydrogen ambitions are significant, and the country’s renewable energy potential plays a crucial role in achieving these goals. The National Green Hydrogen Mission aims to create a thriving green hydrogen ecosystem, reduce carbon emissions, and position India as a global leader in clean energy transition.

7) CRUCIAL ROLE OF INDIAN SUGAR INDUSTRY IN ACHIEVING THE COUNTRY’S TARGETS FOR GREEN HYDROGEN AND RENEWABLE ENERGY PRODUCTION AND CONSUMPTION: The Indian sugar industry can play a crucial role in achieving the country’s targets for green hydrogen and renewable energy production and consumption in following ways …

a) Co-located Renewable Energy Plants: Sugar factories can set up co-located renewable energy plants (such as solar or wind) on their vast land holdings.These plants can generate electricity, which can be used for electrolysis to produce green hydrogen.By utilizing existing infrastructure, sugar factories contribute to both energy production and hydrogen supply.

b) Bagasse-Based Bioenergy:Bagasse, a byproduct of sugar production, can be used to generate bioenergy. Sugar factories can invest in efficient bagasse-based cogeneration plants. Excess electricity generated can be used for green hydrogen production.

c) Integrated Green Hydrogen Units:Sugar factories can establish integrated green hydrogen units. These units combine renewable energy sources (solar/wind) with electrolyzers to produce hydrogen. The surplus hydrogen can be stored or supplied to industries and transport sectors.

d) Research and Innovation: Collaborate with research institutions and industry experts to explore innovative solutions. Invest in R&D for efficient electrolysis techniques and hydrogen storage.

e) Policy Advocacy: Advocate for policies that incentivize green hydrogen and renewable energy adoption. Engage with policymakers to create a conducive environment for investment.

f) Job Creation and Rural Development: Green hydrogen projects create employment opportunities in rural areas. Sugar factories can contribute to local economic development.

In summary, the sugar industry can leverage its existing infrastructure, byproducts, and land resources to enhance India’s green energy transition.

8) PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES TO BE TAKEN BY THE SUGAR FACTORIES IN ESTABLISHING AND SUCCESSFUL IMPLEMENTATION OF THE GREEN HYDROGEN AND RENEWABLE ENERGY PLANTS: When establishing green hydrogen and renewable energy plants, sugar factories should consider the following precautionary measures for successful implementation:

a) Feasibility Assessment: Conduct a thorough feasibility study to assess site suitability, resource availability (solar/wind), and land requirements. Evaluate technical, economic, and environmental aspects.

b) Technology Selection: Choose appropriate technologies for renewable energy generation (solar panels, wind turbines) and electrolysis (for green hydrogen). Ensure compatibility and efficiency.

c) Permitting and Compliance: Obtain necessary permits and approvals from local authorities and environmental agencies. Comply with safety, environmental, and land-use regulations.

d) Resource Management:Optimize water usage for electrolysis. Consider water availability and recycling options. Manage land efficiently for both energy production and sugar cultivation.

e) Safety Measures: Implement safety protocols for handling hydrogen and renewable energy equipment. Train staff on safe practices and emergency procedures.

f) Maintenance and Monitoring: Regularly inspect and maintain renewable energy infrastructure (panels, turbines, etc.). Monitor hydrogen production, storage, and distribution systems.

g) Financial Planning: Develop a robust financial plan considering capital costs, operational expenses, and revenue projections. Explore financing options and incentives.

h) Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing: Collaborate with experts, research institutions, and industry peers. Share best practices and lessons learned. Remember that successful implementation involves a holistic approach, balancing technical, financial, and operational aspects.

In conclusion, the World Bank’s sanctioned funds provide a unique opportunity for Indian sugar factories to diversify their income streams and contribute to the nation’s green energy goals. By strategically investing in green hydrogen and renewable energy projects, sugar factories can enhance their sustainability, create jobs, and play a pivotal role in India’s clean energy transition. Let’s harness this financial support to build a greener, more resilient future for both the sugar industry and the environment.

P.G. Medhe is the former Managing Director of Shri Chhatrapati Rajaram Sahakari Sakhar Karkhana Ltd and sugar industry analyst. He can be contacted at +91 9822329898.


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