Orkney Islands of Scotland Chosen for European-Wide Hydrogen Project
Orkney Islands of Scotland Chosen for European-Wide Hydrogen Project
author Added by FuelCellsWorks, May 13, 2016

The Orkney Islands of Scotland have been chosen for the development of a new European-wide hydrogen project, building on the existing Orkney Surf ‘n’ Turf  initiative. This wider European project is called BIG HIT (Building Innovative Green Hydrogen systems in an Isolated Territory: a pilot for Europe). BIG HIT is a five-year project, involving 12 participants based across six EU countries, and starts in May 2016.

The local authority partner in BIG HIT is Orkney Islands Council, providing local input together with the Shapinsay Development Trust (SDT), Community Energy Scotland (CES), and the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC). Calvera, Giacomini, ITM Power, and Symbio FCell are the industry partners providing equipment and technical expertise. Technical University of Denmark (DTU) is the technical partner and the Scottish Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Association (SHFCA) is dissemination partner. The Ministry for Transport and Infrastructure (MTI) represents Malta as the lead follower territory for project replication. The overall BIG HIT project coordinator is Fundación Hidrógeno Aragón (FHA, The Foundation for the Development of New Hydrogen Technologies in Aragon).

The Orkney Islands have over 50 MW of installed wind, wave and tidal capacity generating over 46 GWhrs per year of renewable power, and has been a net exporter of electricity since 2013. Energy used to produce the hydrogen for BIG HIT will be provided by the community-owned wind turbines on the islands of Shapinsay and Eday, two of the islands in the Orkney archipelago. At present the Shapinsay and Eday turbines are often ‘curtailed’, losing on average more than 30% of their annual output, with their electricity output limited by grid capacity restrictions in Orkney. The otherwise curtailed capacity from the locally owned Shapinsay wind turbine will be used to split the component elements of water, by the process of electrolysis, to produce low carbon ‘green’ hydrogen and oxygen using a 1 MW PEM electrolyser.

BIG HIT builds on foundations laid by the Orkney Surf ‘n’ Turf initiative, which will see production of hydrogen on the islands of Eday and Shapinsay using wind and tidal energy. These are both world leading pilot and demonstration projects, which aim to put in place a fully integrated model of hydrogen production, storage, transportation and utilisation for low carbon heat, power and transport. These projects address a number of operational and development challenges including the logistical and regulatory aspects for transport of hydrogen fuel between islands, and the orientation and familiarisation with new hydrogen building and transport technologies.

Orkney Islands Council will be taking a significant part in the BIG HIT project, by providing 10 electric vans which will each be fitted with a hydrogen fuel cell.  A hydrogen refuelling station will be constructed in or near to Kirkwall at a site still to be selected. These adapted vans will form part of the Council’s fleet – their hydrogen fuel cells will give them a wider range than their battery-powered electric counterparts. As part of demonstrating the potential scope hydrogen has for practical uses in Orkney, the Council also intends to install small hydrogen-powered boilers at two of its premises. Gavin Barr, the Council’s Executive Director of Development and Infrastructure, said: ‘BIG HIT has the potential to reduce costs to the Council whilst maximising a sustainable resource which is readily available locally and currently being underutilised due to our lack of connectivity to the national grid. BIG HIT will build on what is being achieved through Surf ‘n’ Turf and communities can look forward to hearing more about the project as it evolves.’

Shapinsay Development Trust works to secure the future of the resilient island community of about 300 people in Shapinsay, one of the many inhabited islands in the Orkney archipelago. Shapinsay islanders are empowered and resourced by the efforts of the Trust in whose work many of them are intimately involved as trustees, volunteers or employees. Service Manager Nic. Thake said ‘BIG HIT offers an opportunity for Shapinsay to address the curtailment of its community owned turbine in a way that helps demonstrate an innovative energy option that will be available to island groups in the future. This project offers a glimpse of a sustainable future where small islands can provide their own integrated transport, heat and power system by deploying their own generational capacity. We are proud to be part of this project and, small as we are, look forward to working with partners to achieve its aims.’

Community Energy Scotland (CES) is a registered Scottish charity and has been at the forefront of community energy developments in Scotland. CES has been leading the Surf 'n' Turf project which will work closely with BIG HIT. CES Project Manager in Kirkwall, Mark Hull, said: ‘CES's Kirkwall team is looking forward to working with local partners and companies from across Europe to scale up hydrogen as a clean fuel that helps keep the value of Orkney's renewable energy close to home. In particular, it's great to welcome a second community generator – and another CES member – into the hydrogen network that Surf 'n' Turf has established."

European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) is the first and only centre in the world to provide developers of both wave and tidal energy converters with purpose-built open-sea testing facilities, and also is host to the Surf ‘n’ Turf project funded by the Scottish Government’s Local Energy Challenge Fund. Neil Kermode, Managing Director of EMEC said: ‘Hydrogen is a really useful product, and BIG HIT is building on the work started on Eday with the Surf ‘n’ Turf project. Once you have made hydrogen you can do many different things with it, including heating and transport. By innovating around local grid constraints using hydrogen we are opening up huge new markets.’

Calvera specialises in the manufacture of storage and transport systems for compressed gas, and particularly Hydrogen for high pressure. The company has provided bespoke systems for 30 years to industrial and medical gas companies and is a certified official supplier to these organizations. Calvera is composed of 2 production facilities, with a workforce of 60 people, and provides turnkey solutions including European approvals. In addition, the company maintains and refurbishes gas transport systems.

Giacomini is a leader in the field of components for heating and cooling, and has been involved for more than 10 years in the field of hydrogen as renewable energy source using an innovative condensing boiler based on a hydrogen catalytic burner.

ITM Power is an energy storage and clean fuel company. committed to clean sustainable energy solutions based on water electrolysis using Polymer-Electrolyte-Membrane (PEM) technologies. ITM Power will be providing the project’s electrolysis, the hydrogen refuelling station and will be conducting much of the safety analysis. Dr Graham Cooley, CEO, ITM Power commented: ‘BIG HIT is a major step in turning the Orkney Islands into a genuine Hydrogen Territory. The deployment of 1.5 MW of electrolysis and the operation of hydrogen logistics to provide a transport fuel and renewable heat is a very important step.’

Symbio FCell is the European leader in hydrogen Fuel Cell systems designed for the transportation markets. Fabio Ferrari, CEO, Symbio FCell commented: ‘BIG HIT will demonstrate the huge value of a full hydrogen ecosystem, a comprehensive environmental-friendly value chain that provides energy independence, cogeneration of renewable heat and electricity, as well as zero emission solutions for sustainable mobility and transportation.’

Danmarks Tekniske Universitet (Technical University of Denmark, DTU) is one of Europe’s foremost technical universities with world class expertise in fuel cells, electrolysis, hydrogen storage and related technologies. Centre Manager Eva Ravn Nielsen from DTU Energy and FCH Test Center (for fuel cell and hydrogen technologies) comments: 'It is exciting to contribute to the demonstration of a hydrogen society in the Orkney Islands. We need these new technologies to balance the future energy system with increasing amounts of intermittent renewable energy.’

Scottish Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Association (SHFCA) is the sector body for the development and deployment of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies in Scotland. Nigel Holmes, CEO of SHFCA said ‘BIG HIT is another important step for developing low carbon energy systems capability in Scotland, and we are delighted to be part of this Europe wide team. BIG HIT demonstrates the important role of hydrogen and fuel cells for realising additional local benefits from renewable energy, and this great project will help many other islands and communities to achieve similar benefits.’

The Ministry for Transport and Infrastructure (MTI) promotes and develops the transport sector in Malta by means of proper regulation and by the promotion and development of related services, businesses and other interests, both locally and internationally.

The Foundation for the Development of New Hydrogen Technologies in Aragon (FHa) is a non-profit private entity founded in 2003 to carry out the organization, management and deployment of a wide range of actions with the purpose of promoting the use of the hydrogen as an energy vector. Based in Huesca, Spain, its team of experienced professionals performs R&D as well as consultancy projects, in cooperation or assisting local, national and international companies, contributing to their industrial modernization and to improve their competitiveness. FHA co-organizes the World Hydrogen Energy Conference (WHEC 2016) to be held in Zaragoza, Spain, from the 13th to 16th June.

Financial support for the BIG HIT project through the European Commission’s Fuel Cells Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH 2 JU). The FCH 2 JU selected BIG HIT as the only hydrogen project of its kind to receive funding, and €5 million has been allocated to the project, which has total estimated costs of €10.9 million.