Wind power and hydrogen technology are revolutionising energy provision in remote British islands.

The residents of the Shetland Isles which lie 200 miles north of the Scottish mainland currently experience the highest energy prices in the UK. However, this could all be about to change.

In Unst, the most northerly island, a dedicated team of local visionaries has been working together with siGEN, the UK's leading fuel cell systems integrator, to demonstrate the ability of alternative energy systems to deliver not only energy but also hydrogen – the fuel of the future.

Promoting Unst Renewable Energy – PURE – is a pilot project demonstrating how wind power and hydrogen technology can be combined to provide for the energy needs of a rural industrial estate.

The project is the first community owned renewable energy system of its kind in Europe and represents an important milestone in the development of green systems.

It will demonstrate the potential for complete energy self-sufficiency for local communities with hydrogen used as the means of storing and using energy generated from renewable sources.

The surplus electricity generated from two 15kW wind turbines is converted to hydrogen by electrolysis using an Accagen electrolyser. This electrolyser can take up to 15 kW and passes the hydrogen at pressures of up to 50 atmospheres into the gas cylinder storage system.

Schematic of Wind-Hydrogen Energy Storage///Image courtesy of siGEN

The fuel cell is a 5 kW unit that can generate electrical power for the lighting and heating of units on a remote industrial estate when the wind is insufficient to power the turbines.

The hydrogen will be used for a variety of local applications and for a range of demonstration projects. These will include siGEN's fuel cell/battery hybrid car, which uses hydrogen to provide on-board electrical power to supplement the batteries.

The company also intends to develop commercial enterprises on Unst based around renewable energy and hydrogen.

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