Hydrogen fuel cell unveiled in Scotland

Surf ‘n’ Turf hydrogen fuel cell unveiling (Photo: EMEC)

The pioneering Surf ‘n’ Turf hydrogen community energy project has been launched in Orkney by the Scottish government’s Business, Innovation and Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse.

Wheelhouse officially unveiled the newly installed hydrogen fuel cell at Kirkwall Pier on September 27, 2017.

The fuel cell is the final aspect of the hydrogen generation system being developed in Orkney as part of the Surf ‘n’ Turf project – a pilot project looking to circumvent local grid constraints by generating hydrogen from tidal and wind energy.

Other elements of the system include an electrolyser which has been installed at the European Marine Energy Centre’s (EMEC) tidal test site on the island of Eday. It produced the world’s first tidal-powered hydrogen in August this year.

Once produced, hydrogen will be stored and transported to Kirkwall where the fuel cell will convert it back into electricity for use by the inter-island ferries whilst berthed at the pier.

Paul Wheelhouse said: “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.”

Mark Hull, Community Energy Scotland’s Head of Innovation, added: “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.”

As it is produced from renewable electricity, Surf ‘n’ Turf’s hydrogen is a clean fuel that causes no carbon emissions, and has many potential uses – including to supply electricity, as a transport fuel for vehicles or ships, for heating, or to make fertilizer.

Surf ‘n’ Turf is led by nationwide charity Community Energy Scotland, working with project partners EMEC, Orkney Islands Council, Eday Renewable Energy, and ITM Power.

The project received £1.3 million of Scottish government funding through the CARES programme and Local Energy Challenge Fund.