ITM Power’s Hatson hydrogen (H2) refuelling station was used to refuel a fleet of five, zero emission vehicles for the first time as part of the ‘Building Innovative Green Hydrogen Systems in an Isolated Territory’ (BIG HIT) project.

This marks the first refuelling of a H2 vehicle in the Orkney Islands and is a major first step towards creating a genuine H2 territory in the region.

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 H2 deployment for island systems and new H2 territories.

The Orkney Islands have over 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. Energy used to produce the H2 for BIG HIT is provided by the community-owned wind turbines on the islands of Shapinsay and Eday, two of the islands in the Orkney archipelago.

At present 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 H2 using a 1 MW PEM electrolyser supplied by ITM Power. Storing excess renewable energy as renewable H2 in this way increases the utilisation of the installed wind capacity without the need to reinforce the grid connection.

Commenting on the BIG HIT announcement, Dr. Graham Cooley, CEO of ITM Power said, The Orkney Islands are the ideal test bed for the creation of a fully-fledged H2 territory with H2 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.”

Fabio Ferrari, CEO of Symbio, added, “BIG HIT is demonstrating the huge value of a full ‘Hydrogen Valley’ ecosystem, a comprehensive environmental-friendly value chain that provides energy independence, cogeneration of renewable heat and electricity, as well as zero emission solutions for sustainable mobility and transportation.”