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EMEC produces world's first tidal-powered hydrogen

CTBR Staff Writer Published 14 September 2017

The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) has produced hydrogen gas by using electricity generated from tidal energy at Orkney archipelago in Scotland.

EMEC claims that it is the first time in the world that energy from tidal waves has been used for generating hydrogen.

EMEC used the electricity generated from its test site at Fall of Warness, Orkney and fed the electricity into an electrolyser situated next to EMEC’s onshore substation.

The electrolyser split water into hydrogen and oxygen and produced hydrogen at a rate of 220kg/24 hours.

EMEC managing director Neil Kermode 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."

EMEC’s has received a funding of £3m from the Scottish government, made available through Highlands and Islands Enterprise, which was invested in the hydrogen production capability.

The electrolyser used for the project was supplied by ITM Power, which manufactures integrated hydrogen energy systems.

EMEC stated that its electrolyser will be used at a project called the Surf’n’Turf. This project is led by Community Energy Scotland in partnership with Orkney Islands Council, EMEC, Eday Renewable Energy and ITM Power.

The project will produce hydrogen by using power generated by EMEC’s tidal wave test site and a 900kW wind turbine owned by the Eday community.

Hydrogen produced at the site will be transported to Kirkwall, where a fuel cell installed on the pier will convert the hydrogen back into electricity to be used as auxiliary power for ferries.  

Scottish Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy Paul Wheelhouse said: “The Scottish Government is pleased to be supporting this innovative project which will help to partially overcome grid constraints in the Orkney Islands by enabling the storage of excess tidal power generated and using that electricity to produce hydrogen.

“The project also adds to our growing understanding of the potential role of hydrogen in Scotland’s future energy system – something we have committed to exploring in our draft Energy Strategy.”

Image: EMEC produces hydrogen using electricity from tidal waves in Scotland. Photo: Courtesy of European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) Ltd.