A trial to prove an independent and steady supply of renewable energy is possible has received a positive reaction.

But the trial, which is taking place on the remote Norwegian island of Utsira, will probably not take off in many countries due to its cost.

Two wind turbines make up part of a factory which is the first of its kind producing electricity by combining wind power and hydrogen, a method which is pollution-free.

On Utsira, the wind speeds average 10 metres a second and the turbines can power the whole island. Surplus power is used to break water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen.

When there is no wind, the stored hydrogen is used to produce electricity either burning it in a combustion engine or by fusing it chemically with oxygen in a fuel cell with water the by-product.

The £3.4m trial is led by Norwegian energy company Hydro and is operated remotely from Germany with the aim to prove it is possible to produce an independent and steady supply of renewable energy - for the past year, 10 homes have received their electricity through the plant.

Another reason behind the project is to provide an alternative to diesel, which is expensive and polluting, and is used to power generators often used in remote communities.

It is thought the scheme could be useful for countries that already use a lot of wind power, for example Denmark, to help them regulate their electricity production, because the wind does not blow at the same speed all the time.

But the trial has come across its problems – such as when the wind did not blow for three days in a row last winter. The plant can only store enough hydrogen for two days' consumption and the homes had to get their electricity from the national grid instead. It is also an expensive way to produce electricity compared to conventional methods and is unlikely to take off in countries such as the UK unless there is a big hike in gas and oil prices.

Torgeir Nakken is the trial's project manager. He said: \\$quot;Another problem has been to try to make all the different components work together, as it's never been done before. For instance, the fuel cell which is used to create electricity with hydrogen, is brand new technology.\\$quot;

Residents have also mentioned that lights flicker from time to time with light bulbs needing to be changed more often.

The Shetland Island of Unst has started a similar scheme to provide renewable energy to five businesses on an industrial estate.

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