On Wednesday 27th September 2017, the innovative Surf ‘n’ Turf hydrogen community energy project was officially launched in Orkney by the Scottish Government’s Business, Innovation & Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse.
Scottish Government Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, Paul Wheelhouse, stated “Hydrogen itself and hydrogen fuel cells both have huge potential in Scotland’s low-carbon energy system and we have already supported a number of world-leading hydrogen demonstration projects.
We will continue to support innovation in suitable hydrogen initiatives and explore the practicalities of using hydrogen as a zero carbon substitute fuel for the heating of homes and businesses in Scotland and in transport.
Hydrogen energy technologies are in the early stages of development in Scotland but there is growing global awareness of their potential in the decarbonisation of heat, industry and transport. We are actively considering what role hydrogen can play in Scotland’s future energy system as part of the Scottish Energy Strategy, and projects like Surf ‘n’ Turf have a very important role to play in informing that work.”
The “Surf ’n’ Turf” project is led by Community Energy Scotland, in collaboration with the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), Orkney Islands Council, Eday Renewable Energy and ITM Power. The project has received £1.3m (€1.5m) of Scottish government funding through the CARES programme and Local Energy Challenge Fund.
Mark Hull, Community Energy Scotland’s Head of Innovation said: “We never forget why we took on this challenge: we want community energy to work so that local people benefit directly from their renewable energy.
This hydrogen pilot has been the best opportunity for Eday due to their location, type of grid limitations, its fantastic energy resource and the chance to power the local ferries with Orkney’s own fuel. We are proud, together with the community and partners, to have cleared the hurdles and reached this milestone.”
Orkney is an archipelago off the north-eastern coast of Scotland. There is a plentiful amount of natural resources (wave, tidal, wind and solar), which allows for the electricity to be generated locally from renewable resources. On many occasions the generated electricity is more than what is needed by the local population and the surplus is exported to the UK National Grid. In some instances, a problem arises with an over-production of green electricity, as the grid connection in Orkney is not large enough to support the export of all that is produced. This results in curtailment of the production of green electricity and clean energy being unharnessed.
Eday Island hosts the tidal site of the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) and has around 200 residents, which own collectively 900kW wind turbine through Eday Renewable Energy. Both Eday’s wind turbine and EMEC’s tidal turbines are susceptible to curtailment because of the non-firm grid connection.
Andy Stennett, Managing Director of Eday Renewable Energy Ltd said: “The ERE team is proud to be part of such an innovative pilot. We expect to reclaim electricity that was previously lost, meaning more revenue, and more money we can pass to our community.”
Surf ‘n’ Turf provides Eday’s community-owned wind turbine and EMEC with equipment to convert and store the surplus energy as hydrogen. The fuel cell (75kW) was the final piece of the hydrogen project and it was delivered and install by Arcola Energy in collaboration with German Proton Motor. The hydrogen is compressed by EMEC’s electrolyser, stored and transported to Kirkwall for off-site use, where the fuel cell will convert it back into electricity for use by the inter-island ferries while berthed at the pier. EMCE produced the world’s first tidal-powered hydrogen in August this year.
James Stockan, Leader of Orkney Islands Council, said: “This is all about turning a problem into an opportunity – a home-grown solution to the difficulties grid restraints cause for a community with abundant renewable energy resources.
The result is a world-leading project that rightly is attracting international interest. I am confident that this will be the first of many pioneering ways our community will find to utilise hydrogen produced using Orkney’s natural resources.”