A £10 MILLION waste management plant is set to be turned into a factory to produce hydrogen as a green fuel for homes, vehicles and industry in the Western Isles under plans expected to be approved today.
The move would see the islands become the world's first large-scale producer of hydrogen derived from organic gas.
The plant in Stornoway was designed to create electricity, but could not get a national grid connection to transmit the energy.
Under today's proposals it will work in conjunction with the Hydrogen Research Laboratory on Lewis, a research centre working to speed up the timetable for hydrogen to become a mainstream mass- produced fuel source. A pipeline can also be built at the waste plant to carry the hydrogen to the heavy industrial manufacturing park at Arnish.
Western Isles Council's vice-convener, Angus Campbell, said: "We had originally hoped to sell electricity as part of our scheme to increase renewable energy sources. So altering the plant to produce hydrogen seems a logical alternative."
A council report said hydrogen produced at the plant would be used for a variety of demonstration, commercial and research projects and could help cut costs in the islands where transport makes traditional fuels expensive.
Yesterday, the council's transportation committee agreed to try to buy hydrogen buses for use on the islands.
Mr Campbell added: "There is a lot of enthusiasm here for hydrogen. We have top scientists here working on its application and we now have a large plant that will produce it. I expect the council will approve the alterations to the plant."
Hydrogen has been hailed as the "fuel of the future" because of its low emission rate. Councillors envisage filling stations on the islands where vehicles could be supplied with the new fuel. It could also be stored in bottles as a portable fuel for homes.