ITM Power wins £1.8m deal for ‘ground-breaking’ tidal energy storage system at European Marine Energy Centre

Neil Kermode, Managing Director, EMEC
Neil Kermode, Managing Director, EMEC

The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) is to fit an electrolyser to convert power generated at its tidal test site in Orkney to hydrogen fuel. The ground-breaking new project will pilot the storage of electricity from different forms of renewables, overcoming island grid constraints.

ITM Power, the energy storage and clean fuel company, won a competitive tender to supply an integrated hydrogen system for use at EMEC’s tidal test site at the Fall of Warness, off Eday.

The electrolyser will be used to absorb some of the excess power generated by the tidal turbines testing at EMEC. The hydrogen gas generated will be compressed and stored, with some of the gas being used in a hydrogen fuel cell to provide backup power to EMEC’s extensive data gathering and control systems.

The remainder of the hydrogen gas will be used off-site by a further project being developed separately – Orkney Surf and Turf – which plans to absorb output of a local community wind turbine operated by Eday Renewable Energy.

The system’s principal component is a 0.5MW ‘polymer electrolyte membrane’ electrolyser with integrated compression and up to 500kg of storage. The total contracted value of the project is £1.79m. The electrolyser will be packaged in a standard 20’ and 10’ ISO container with hydrogen generation capacity up to 220kg/24hours.

Neil Kermode, Managing Director, EMEC, commented: “We are really excited about this development.

“The electrolyser will allow us to pilot the production of hydrogen fuel from tidal energy, and allow surplus renewable energy on the island to be used without having to rely upon the inadequate grid.

“We expect to have this installed and working within the next year. “While people are doing this all around the world already in some respects, we don’t believe anybody is doing it from tidal energy. This is an innovative way to tackle the shortcomings of the local grid which is holding back marine energy in Orkney. 

“We really see this as the moment we begin to break away from the shackles of the 20th century cable architecture.”

Dr Graham Cooley, Chief Executive, ITM Power, commented: “We are delighted with this sale and to be working with EMEC on the Orkney Islands. ITM Power’s PEM Electrolysers are perfect for island deployment given the logistics of power distribution and fuel supply and this application by EMEC is a fantastic example as to how the rapid response functionality of ITM’s systems offer freedom from the grid constraints of distributed and remote renewable energy”.


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