United Kingdom – The International Hydropower Association (IHA) has produced a research and policy study titled ‘The green hydrogen revolution: hydropower’s transformative role’, which highlights how hydropower might play a key role in green hydrogen growth.
While the majority of hydrogen is now produced from fossil fuels, forecasts show that renewable and low-carbon green hydrogen could expand rapidly and play a critical part in the transition to net-zero energy. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) stated in its Transforming Energy Scenario released in its Global Renewables Outlook in 2020 that green hydrogen might supply up to 8% of global energy consumption by 2050, with more recent research suggesting it might be much higher.
Hydropower for hydrogen production
As the leading source of renewable electricity globally, hydropower is well suited to producing green hydrogen and has played a leading role in this over the past 100 years.
Alex Campbell, IHA’s Head of Policy and Research, said: “Looking ahead hydropower could potentially supply at least 1,000 TWh of the additional electricity demand required in IRENA’s 2050 scenario. For even more ambitious scenarios that seek to limit the increase in global temperatures below 1.5C, the likely demand on hydropower would be greater.”
According to the business-led Hydrogen Council, hydrogen may meet up to 18% of world energy consumption by 2050, reducing annual emissions by 6 gigatonnes and potentially establishing a US$2.5 trillion industry.
In its newly published paper, IHA calls on governments and industry to:
- Develop enabling policies and financial incentives to stimulate demand for green hydrogen, scale-up projects and reduce technology costs.
- Support decarbonization of power grids, and establish global certification systems that credit green hydrogen produced from clean electricity sources, including hydropower.
- Recognize and support the role of hydropower capacity, alongside other renewables, for green hydrogen production. A balanced portfolio leads to a more secure and sustainable energy mix, and helps ensure high utilization factors for H2 electrolysis plants.
- Create markets and policy frameworks that reward flexible electricity supply and demand on the grid.
- Scale-up investment into new renewable power capacity, as soon as possible, to progress grid decarbonization and cost reductions for green hydrogen.