Pillars of Progress: Power – Hydrogen and renewables: A model for decarbonisation

Scotland’s Orkney Islands are a test case for a low-carbon future. A Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) project is converting excess electricity from renewables in the remote archipelago into clean hydrogen to power vehicles, buildings and ships, demonstrating a realistic alternative to fossil fuels and inspiring other European regions.

With more than 1,000 wind, wave and tidal energy installations serving 10,000 households, the Orkney Islands have one of Europe’s highest levels of renewable energy use. In fact, so much renewable energy is generated that it can exceed the capacity of the electricity grid: over 30% of the potential annual output of wind turbines on the islands of Shapinsay and Eday is being lost.

The FCH JU-funded BIG HIT project is implementing an innovative solution. Renewable energy is powering electrolysers to generate hydrogen. This green hydrogen fuels vehicles, powers ferries while docked and heats buildings, including a school and community centre.

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