Orkney asks for feedback on hydrogen-renewables connection

Photo: EMEC

Orkney Islands Council has invited feedback on a draft strategy designed to build on the county’s role in developing hydrogen–based projects.

The strategy highlights the benefits offered by hydrogen production and looks at a range of challenges this could help address. A key challenge is to find ways to unblock the restrictions currently placed on renewable energy generation in Orkney by inadequate grid connections to mainland Scotland.

If this “lost” electricity was used instead to produce hydrogen for local consumption, this would help enable renewable energy technologies to operate to their full potential.

A collaborative project is already underway. The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) has invested in an electrolyser that will use power from tidal turbines operating off Eday to produce hydrogen. Building on this, Community Energy Scotland, in partnership with the Council, EMEC, Eday Renewable Energy and ITM Power, have created the Surf ‘n’ Turf initiative.

Electricity from Eday’s community wind turbine will also be used to produce hydrogen using EMEC’s electrolyser. It will be transported to Kirkwall, where a fuel cell installed on the pier will convert the hydrogen back into electricity for use as auxiliary power for ferries when tied up overnight.

“Surf ‘n’ Turf is a great example of how we are working together in developing innovative uses of hydrogen to overcome some of the energy challenges we face,” said Jan Falconer, the Council’s Head of Strategic Development and Regeneration.

“Producing hydrogen helps unlock curtailment on tidal and wind energy generation caused by grid limitations. It means renewable energy can be stored for later use as and when it is needed.”

She added: “The Hydrogen Strategy we’ve produced for consultation looks at this and other ways in which Orkney is leading the way in hydrogen innovation.

“It considers how hydrogen could be used as a stepping stone along the road to stronger grid connections – and the role it could play in its own right in boosting our local economy. It also describes how the Council could play an enabling role in helping individuals, communities and businesses to develop opportunities that make good use of hydrogen.”

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