The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) said on Wednesday that for the first time ever, anywhere in the world, it has produced hydrogen gas using electricity generated by tidal energy turbines in Orkney, Scotland.
Back in 2015, EMEC awarded a contract to ITM Power Plc (LON:ITM) for the supply of a system that includes a 0.5-MW polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolyser, integrated compression and up to 500 kg of storage.
On August 25, 2017, turbines deployed by Scotrenewables and Tocardo at EMEC’s tidal energy test site at the Fall of Warness have fed power into that electrolyser, allowing it to split water (H2O) into its component parts – hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O2), EMEC said.
“Whilst the initial driver behind buying an electrolyser was to provide a storage solution to circumvent local grid constraints, the purchase has sparked off other pioneering projects around Orkney looking to use hydrogen in various means. So we’re now looking towards the development of a hydrogen economy in Orkney,” said Neil Kermode, Managing Director of EMEC.
The so-called Surf ‘n’ Turf project is among those that will make use of the electrolyser. The plan is to produce hydrogen using electricity from the EMEC test site and from a 900-kW Enercon wind turbine owned by the Eday community. The produced hydrogen will then be transported to Kirkwall, where a fuel cell will convert it back into electricity for use as auxiliary power for ferries when tied up overnight, EMEC explained.
The project is led by Community Energy Scotland in partnership with Orkney Islands Council, EMEC, Eday Renewable Energy and ITM Power.
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