First re-fuelling of hydrogen-powered council vans carried out on Orkney

Diagram of the BIG HIT hydrogen fuel system on Orkney
Diagram of the BIG HIT hydrogen fuel system on Orkney

The first refuelling of a hydrogen vehicle in the Orkney Islands has taken place using locally produced, renewable hydrogen – a major step towards creating a genuine hydrogen territory on the islands.

The ‘Building Innovative Green Hydrogen Systems in an Isolated Territory’ (BIG HIT) project has carried out the first refuelling of the fleet of five, zero emission, light commercial vans equipped with the Symbio hydrogen range extender  at the ITM Power refuelling station in Hatston.

An important pilot project for Europe, BIG HIT is a five-year project, involving 12 participants based across six EU countries, funded in May 2016 by the EU FCH JU.

The Orkney Islands of Scotland were chosen for this development because of the need to store excess renewable energy and utilise the stored energy locally for transport and heat. The project therefore represents a blue print for renewable hydrogen deployment for island systems and new hydrogen territories.

The Orkney Islands have more than 50 MW of installed wind, wave and tidal capacity generating over 46 GWhr per year of renewable power and has been a net exporter of electricity since 2013.

But the Shapinsay and Eday wind turbines are often ‘curtailed’, losing on average more than 30% of their annual output, limited by grid capacity restrictions in Orkney.

This wasted energy from the locally owned Shapinsay wind turbine will be used by the BIG HIT project to produce renewable hydrogen using a 1 MW PEM electrolyser supplied by ITM Power. Storing excess renewable energy as renewable hydrogen in this way increases the utilisation of the installed wind capacity without the need to reinforce the grid connection.

Dr Graham Cooley, chief executive of ITM Power, commented: “The Orkney Islands are the ideal test bed for the creation of a fully-fledged hydrogen territory with hydrogen produced and used sustainably.  We are pleased to have helped develop the project and that ITM Power’s equipment is part of this important European initiative.”

15 May 2018

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