Electrolyzers make tidal-powered hydrogen in Scotland

EMEC has generated green hydrogen gas demonstrating potential for a clean replacement for polluting fuels

Content Dam Elp Online Articles 2017 09 Credit Colin Keldie Hydrogen Elp

(Above: Photo courtesy of Colin Keldie)

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

The first tidal-powered hydrogen was generated by EMEC on Friday 25th August 2017.

By harnessing the power of the tide at EMEC’s tidal energy test site at the Fall of Warness, Eday, Orkney, prototype tidal energy converters – Scotrenewables’ SR2000 and Tocardo’s TFS and T2 turbine - fed power into an electrolyzer situated next to EMEC’s onshore substation.

Supplied by ITM Power, the electrolyzer uses the electricity to split water into its component parts – hydrogen and oxygen.

The electrolyzer is housed in a standard 20’ by 10’ ISO container with hydrogen generation capacity of up to 220kg/24hours.

EMEC’s investment in hydrogen production capability has been made possible by funding of £3 million from Scottish Government, made available through Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

ITM Power, who specialize in the manufacture of integrated hydrogen energy systems, won a competitive tender to supply a system to EMEC back in 2015. The system’s principal component, a 0.5MW ‘polymer electrolyte membrane’ (PEM) electrolyzer, comes with integrated compression and up to 500kg of storage.

One of the projects that will be using EMEC’s electrolyzer is the Surf’n’Turf project being led by Community Energy Scotland in partnership with Orkney Islands Council, EMEC, Eday Renewable Energy and ITM Power.

The Surf ‘n’ Turf project will see the electrolyzer producing hydrogen using electricity from EMEC’s test site as well as power from a 900kW Enercon wind turbine owned by the Eday community. The hydrogen will then be transported to Kirkwall, where a fuel cell installed on the pier will convert the hydrogen back into electricity for use as auxiliary power for ferries when tied up overnight. The project is also developing a training program with a view to green hydrogen eventually being used as a fuel source on the inter-island ferries themselves.

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