On 25 August 2017, the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) produced hydrogen gas using electricity generated from tidal energy at the Fall of Warness, Eday in Orkney. The development presents the possibility for green hydrogen to be used as a clean, carbon-neutral replacement for polluting fuels in cars, vans and ferries.
Paul Wheelhouse, the Scottish Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, noted that the £3 million project – funded by the Scottish Government through the Highlands and Islands Enterprise – not only overcame its initial role in overcoming Orkney’s grid constraints, but also addressed Scotland’s draft Energy Strategy which could see green hydrogen as a viable alternative fuel.
ITM Power won a competitive tender to supply a system to EMEC in 2015, with the system’s principal component – a 0.5MW ‘polymer electrolyte membrane’ (PEM) electrolyser – coming with integrated compression and up to 500kg of storage. The electrolyser is housed in a standard 20’ by 10’ ISO container with hydrogen generation capacity of up to 220kg/ 24hours. The prototype tidal energy converters — Scotrenewables’ SR2000 and Tocardo’s TFS and T2 turbine — fed power into an electrolyser situated next to EMEC’s onshore substation which, supplied by ITM power, then split water into its component parts of hydrogen and oxygen.
This is not the only project within Orkney to benefit from the EMEC electrolyser. The Surf’n’Turf project – led by Community Energy Scotland in partnership with Orkney Islands Council, EMEC, Eday Renewable Energy and ITM Power — will see the electrolyser producing hydrogen using electricity from EMEC’s test site, as well as power from an Eday community-owned 900kW Enercon wind turbine. The hydrogen produced will be transported to a fuel cell on the pier in Kirkwall, where it will then be converted back into electricity for auxiliary power used for ferries tied up overnight. The project is concerned with green hydrogen eventually being used as a fuel source for the inter-island ferries.