The Micro hydropower industry in Wales has had a tough time as of late. It’s a perfect storm of operators having to manage downside uncertainty in relation to the export price of power, and operators trying to manage the impact of Welsh Governments decision to remove the business rates grant scheme – despite consistent and solid representation from the British Hydropower Association.
Against this background, the hydropower industry could be forgiven for choosing consolidation and reconciliation ahead of further investment and enterprise, but in true “expect the unexpected” style – the hydropower fraternity is looking again at what additional contributions they can make to being an important part of the Green Recovery.
The Climate Change Commission’s Net Zero report recognise that it is impossible to decarbonise the economy without green hydrogen. The report acknowledges that hydrogen is fast emerging into the mainstream and with the costs of producing green hydrogen falling – there are opportunities for hydropower operators to play an important part in this new revolution.
Baileys and Partners have recently become engaged to help a client use the electric produced from an existing 100kW hydropower scheme in Snowdonia to rapidly charge EV vehicles, meet the power demands of several local businesses and generate green hydrogen to power vehicles. The vision is more than “proof of concept” – the client has a genuine intention to future proof their power price whilst also offering the mobility sector hydrogen prices that give fuel cost parity with other solutions.
Did you know, for example, that if you are paying more than 35.3p per kWh to charge your small SUV – you may be paying more than you would have done so if fuelling the equivalent with Diesel? This is the scale of the challenge. But the challenge is bigger than this. There are ways of selling electric and green hydrogen on a very local and circular level – whilst also boosting other industries such as tourism and hospitality. Examples include local breweries or hire bikes powered by renewables.
The initial work has involved an appraisal of the energy supply capability and user demand profiles, nominal and peak (for hydrogen electrolyser, EV charger(s) and the local businesses) to assess the supply capacity and any requirements for load management. In tandem, land rights need to be secured and all stakeholders engaged.
Watch this space – the worlds of hydropower and hydrogen are about to collide with the hope that the shock waves will kick start an important new local supply chain. Please do get in contact with the Baileys and Partners team on 01341 241700 if you are considering a hydrogen or hydropower project. These are exciting times for the renewable energy sector.