The International Hydropower Association (IHA) has published a research and policy paper that discusses how hydropower can help green hydrogen grow.
Green hydrogen is created by electrolysis with decarbonized electricity and water, and it is expected to play a key role in the transition to net-zero carbon economies, according to the IHA.
The majority of hydrogen is made from fossil fuels, but projections show that green hydrogen, which is renewable and low-carbon, could grow rapidly and play a key role in the transition to net zero. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) stated in its Transforming Energy Scenario published in its Global Renewables Outlook in 2020 that green hydrogen could supply up to 8% of global energy demand by 2050. Recent research suggests that it could be even higher.
According to the business-led Hydrogen Council, hydrogen could meet up to 18% of global energy demand by 2050, saving 6 gigatonnes of annual emissions and potentially generating a US$2.5 trillion industry.
Hydropower, as the world’s leading source of renewable electricity, is well-suited to producing green hydrogen and has done so for the past 100 years, according to the IHA.
“Ambitious growth in green hydrogen will significantly increase global demand for clean electricity sources such as hydropower,” said Alex Campbell, IHA’s head of policy and research. “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.
“To realize this potential, policy and regulatory frameworks must be updated to deploy hydrogen services and infrastructure at the scale now required.’
In “The Green Hydrogen Revolution: Hydropower’s Transformative Role,” 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.
IHA is a non-profit membership organization whose mission is to advance sustainable hydropower by building and sharing knowledge on its role in renewable energy systems, responsible freshwater management and climate change solutions.