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Hydrogen energy projects in Scotland: shaping a greener future

15 Oct 2020 • 13 minute read

Discover world-first hydrogen projects in Scotland that aim to decarbonise transport systems and reduce our carbon footprint.

Scotland is a first mover and test bed for innovative hydrogen energy solutions that are helping to decarbonise transport systems and reduce our carbon footprint on the planet.

World firsts in hydrogen power

Here are several pioneering hydrogen projects that are happening in Scotland right now - many of them world firsts to deliver sustainable solutions for a brighter and greener future for all...

Scotland’s lead on hydrogen transport and energy solutions

The Scottish Government plans to decarbonise scheduled flights within Scotland by 2040.

Aviation is responsible for 12% of CO2 emissions from all transport sources and has been one of the fastest growing sources of global emissions pre-COVID, according to the Air Transport Action Group opens in a new window .

UK's first low-carbon aviation test centre

The world’s first long-range (250-mile) zero-emission passenger aircraft flight tests will take place out of Orkney, Scotland as part of the HyFlyer project opens in a new window .

The 18 month project will see electric and hydrogen-powered planes and drone deliveries tested on routes between islands in Orkney. Longer term, the ambition is for the Scottish Highlands and Islands to become the world's first zero-emission aviation region.

From battery to hydrogen power

HyFlyer is backed by £5.3 million UK Government funding to demonstrate hydrogen fuel cell powertrain technology for commercial aviation. Led by Californian aviation firm ZeroAvia opens in a new window , developers of hydrogen fuel cell powertrain solutions, HyFlyer will demonstrate a phased approach from battery power to hydrogen power. In September 2020, a six-seater Piper M-class commercial-grade aircraft completed its short 20-mile maiden hydrogen fuel cell powered flight out of Cranfield, UK as part of the project.

Project partners Intelligent Energy opens in a new window will optimise its high-power fuel cell technology for flights. While the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) opens in a new window in Orkney, which produces clean green hydrogen from wind and tidal sources, will supply the hydrogen required for flight tests and develop a mobile refuelling platform compatible with the aircraft.

Aberdeen has been selected as the home for the "world’s first" offshore floating facility to produce green hydrogen.

The pioneering Dolphyn project will sit 15km off the coast, allowing the UK to harness the power of the fuel using floating wind turbines.

Environmental Resources Management (ERM) secured £3 million UK Government funding to develop its Dolphyn project - the first of its kind. ERM has an memorandum of understanding opens in a new window with a planned offshore wind farm (Salamander) which could see around 200MW of the ERM Dolphyn technology being deployed there.

Read more about the Dolphyn project opens in a new window  

Scotland is currently the world leader in the deployment of floating wind . Commercial scale projects in future ScotWind leasing rounds will set the scene for a huge expansion of floating wind in Scottish waters.

Read more about Scotland's DeepWind cluster 

UK energy regulator Ofgem and the Scottish Government have set aside up to nearly £25 million to finance a project that will use offshore wind power to produce green hydrogen energy to heat homes in Fife, Scotland.

The H100 Fife project led by gas network operator, SGN, aims to use the electricity generated by the 7 MW Levenmouth demonstration offshore wind turbine to produce 100% green hydrogen. This will bring carbon-free heating and cooking to around 300 homes from the end of 2022.

The project will provide compelling evidence of hydrogen’s performance in a real-world domestic setting as a zero-carbon energy source, as the Scottish and UK Governments look to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2045 and 2050 respectively.

The project will be the first of its kind to use a direct clean power supply to produce hydrogen for domestic heating, putting Scotland at the forefront of the green energy revolution.

Read more on SGN website opens in a new window  

Watch the following animation to learn more about H100 Fife network:

The Orkney Distillery is carrying out a feasibility study into developing technology that will enable them to use hydrogen as fuel to decarbonise the distilling process in gin making.

Led by the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), the HySpirits partnership brings together The Orkney Distillery, selected as the site for hydrogen fuel integration, and Edinburgh Napier University who will assess the distillery site and develop the hydrogen system design and specification.

Read more in The Orkney Distillery blog opens in a new window  

Locogen and Logan Energy have secured £3 million government funding to progress Arbikie Highland Estate Distillery's hydrogen power plan.

The duo will work with Arbikie to install an onsite wind turbine and electrolyser that will generate green hydrogen – replacing the polluting oil currently used by the distillery to raise steam for the distillation process.

Read the full news release opens in a new window  

Bruichladdich Distillery on the island of Islay has made a significant step forward in its bold ambition to decarbonise its distillation process by 2025. The distillery has secured £2.6 million funding for its HyLaddie project that will pioneer industry-first hydrogen combustion technology.

Read the full news release opens in a new window  

As first movers and early adopters, Scotland has established experience and expertise in operating large fleets of hydrogen-powered heavy vehicles.

Aberdeen City Council added the UK's first hydrogen fuel cell waste truck to its hydrogen fleet in February 2022.

While typical waste trucks are powered by diesel and petrol, the new waste truck will use green hydrogen from existing refuelling infrastructure in Aberdeen.

The hydrogen fuel cell waste truck is one of seven that will be deployed across seven pilot sites in northwest Europe, including the Netherlands, France, Belgium and Germany.

Each truck will be tested in a range of environments from rural areas to city centres, demonstrating that hydrogen waste trucks provide an effective solution to reduce emissions from road transport.

The waste truck is being part-funded by the Interreg North-West Europe Programme as part of its HECTOR project – Hydrogen Waste Collection Vehicles in northwest Europe. Selected as the project’s lead partner, Aberdeen City Council will add this waste truck to its growing fleet of 85 hydrogen-powered commercial vehicles, including hydrogen-powered buses and public sector vehicles.

Read full news story opens in a new window

Meanwhile, Glasgow is set to get a fleet of 19 hydrogen-powered refuse trucks following the announcement of £6.3 million in UK Government funding. The investment also includes the building of a green refuelling station in the city.

These will be among the first zero emission hydrogen refuse collection lorries developed in the UK.

Read full news story opens in a new window

Scotland has been at the forefront of innovative hydrogen demonstrator projects. ITEG (Integrating Tidal Energy into the European Grid) deployed the world’s first tidal-powered hydrogen electrolyser in Orkney.

Find out more opens in a new window  

Scotland is also powering ahead with low carbon fuel and clean tech transportation projects.

As a first mover, Scotland has many years' experience of operating hydrogen-powered buses with the city of Aberdeen at the forefront. The UK’s first hydrogen production and bus refuelling station was opened in Aberdeen in 2015 as part of a £19 million green transport demonstration project. And in 2021, the city introduced the world's first hydrogen-powered double-decker bus fleet.

Aberdeen’s Hydrogen Hub opens in a new window has led the march with hydrogen buses and is working on scaling up demand across the region and delivering green hydrogen to the market on a commercial basis.

BP has entered into partnership with Aberdeen on the project and the Scottish Government has awarded the project £15 million.

Aberdeen City Council published its Net Zero Vision earlier this year. It positions Aberdeen as a climate positive city while helping to lead the world on the rapid shift to a net-zero future and support the global energy transition by leveraging its unique assets and capabilities.

Aberdeen City Council is now seeking long-term investment and development partners for a £250 million hydrogen infrastructure development programme across housing, heating and transport sectors.

More about this green investment opportunity 

The Scottish Government is investing £300,000 in a new hydrogen accelerator at the University of St Andrews opens in a new window to power innovative solutions.

Working closely with other leading institutions across Scotland, the hydrogen accelerator will help maximise the economic opportunities from the shift to zero or ultra-low emission mobility solutions.

The new initiative will propel innovations in hydrogen technology and encourage knowledge-sharing to support transport applications and sustainable mobility helping phase out the need for new petrol and diesel cars and vans over the next decade.

Read more on Transport Scotland website opens in a new window  

Scotland’s first hydrogen-powered train made its debut at the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow in November 2021.

Scotland’s greener railway ambitions are powering ahead with the next stage of a hydrogen train demonstration project underway. The Zero Emission Train Project is being led by Scottish Enterprise and Transport Scotland in partnership with the University of St Andrews new hydrogen accelerator opens in a new window .

Contact us for more details 

Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc is a joint venture greenfield development between Dundee City Council, Michelin in Dundee and Scottish Enterprise, supporting low carbon innovation and specialising in the manufacture of hydrogen fuel cells for electric vehicles (EVs).

£25 million investment is being sought initially to be invested in the 'Green Space' – an area identified for new Class 4 (Business) and Class 5 (General Industrial) sustainable buildings to accommodate end users and occupiers who wish to co-locate with other sustainable mobility and low carbon businesses.

More about this green investment opportunity 

The Green Hydrogen for Scotland partnership has secured £9.4m UK government funding to build a first-of-a-kind green energy facility of scale next to Whitelee, the UK's largest onshore windfarm, on the outskirts of Glasgow.

The facility will be operated by BOC, using wind and solar power produced by ScottishPower Renewables to operate a 20MW PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane) electrolyser, delivered by ITM Power. Whitelee aims to supply green hydrogen to the commercial market by 2023.

The facility will ensure zero-emission fuel is readily available to organisations, such as local authorities and others with fleets of heavy-duty vehicles.

Read the full news release opens in a new window  

While hydrogen-powered transport is the catalyst and early enabler for the oil and gas transition towards net zero, Scotland’s vision is much grander than that. Scotland has a huge range of skills, assets and industry knowledge that can be transferred to a net zero future.

The creation of a world-leading Energy Transition Zone (ETZ), supported by Scottish Enterprise (Scotland’s national economic development agency), will accelerate the delivery of net zero solutions and secure a strong economic future built on offshore wind, hydrogen, and carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS), alongside oil and gas.

Read more about the Energy Transition Zone opens in a new window  

The Acorn Hydrogen project at St Fergus in North East Scotland will be the first large-scale hydrogen project developed in Scotland. Acorn Hydrogen will initiate, test and develop a cost-effective way of converting North Sea gas to cleaner fuel (blue hydrogen linked to CCUS) with the potential for large-scale hydrogen production and act as a catalyst for developing the hydrogen market within Scotland and beyond.

Read more about the Acorn Hydrogen project opens in a new window  

Energy transition opportunities

There are several energy transition hubs emerging across Scotland, including Cromarty Firth Energy Hub opens in a new window and the Orion project in Shetland opens in a new window . These hubs are starting to demonstrate the scale of the opportunity and Scotland’s potential role in large scale production and supply of hydrogen.

Hunterston Port and Resource Centre (PARC) is the complete redevelopment of the 320-acre deep-water port and marine yard on Scotland’s North Ayrshire coast.

The PARC’s Centre for New Industry and New Energy (C-NINE) is attracting innovative commercial ventures, applying new scientific solutions to address important challenges such as the conversion of plastic to new products and hydrogen.

The PARC is also seeking investment for development and ongoing management of new power generation facilities targeting renewable and transitional technologies such as waste to energy, hydrogen, biomass and other feedstocks.

More about this green investment opportunity 

Scotland's hydrogen ecosystem

Scotland offers plentiful opportunities for international companies operating in low carbon transport. From fuel cell development, niche vehicle design and manufacturing to supply chain opportunities, including refuelling infrastructure, operation and maintenance, plus hydrogen safety and flow rate meteorology – Scotland has the expertise and ambition.

The Scottish Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association (SHFCA) opens in a new window promotes and develops Scottish expertise in fuel cells and hydrogen technologies. It brings together specialist fuel cell and power generation companies, academic institutions, R&D bodies and consultants with local enterprise companies and local authorities to provide a coherent voice to represent, promote and develop Scottish hydrogen and fuel technologies.

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