Arcola Energy installs new hydrogen power system at heart of Orkney’s renewable transport fuel project

Richard Kemp-Harper, Arcola Energy, shows the hydrogen fuel cell on Orkney. Photo Colin Keldie
Richard Kemp-Harper from Arcola Energy, inspects the hydrogen fuel cell on Orkney. Photo Colin Keldie

The unique hydrogen fuel cell system which is at the heart of the Surf ‘n Turf energy storage project in the Orkney Islands has been supplied and installed by Arcola Energy.

Arcola Energy, based in Hackney, east London, and Proton Motor – its German partner – joined forces to design, build and install the 75kW hydrogen fuel cell system.

The plant will convert excess renewable electricity from a local wind turbine into hydrogen on the island of Eday, which is then stored and transported to Kirkwall on the Orkney mainland. Here the fuel cell converts the hydrogen back into electricity to provide renewable power to ferries while they are in port and heat to harbour buildings, with zero local emissions.

Later in the year a fleet of hydrogen-powered vans, also supplied by Arcola Energy, will also use Orkney’s new hydrogen supply.

Like battery-powered vehicles (BPVs) hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (HPVs) offer zero emission road transport, but have greater range than battery vehicles so they can fit into conventionally-powered vehicle fleets.

Dr Ben Todd, Managing Director of Arcola – and a former Rolls-Royce engineer – said: “The ‘walk-in’ hydrogen fuel cell system is unique in that it is also set-up as a training facility, which will help local people to develop the skills required  for the future operation and maintenance of hydrogen fuel cells on boats.

“We will also provide training to the operators of the fuel cell and later support the training of local maintenance staff and crews of marine vessels.”

Paul Wheelhouse, Scottish Energy Minister, later commented: “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.

“Hydrogen energy technologies are in the early stages of development in Scotland but there is growing global awareness of their potential in the decarbonisation of heat, industry and transport. We are actively considering what role hydrogen can play in Scotland’s future energy system as part of the Scottish Energy Strategy.

“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.”

29 Sept 2017

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