Advanced flow batteries are to combine with tidal power to produce the world’s first continuous green hydrogen.
The commercialisation of green hydrogen is seen as an essential step towards the goal of a 100 per cent renewable future.
Green hydrogen is created and consumed without carbon emissions and can replace fossil fuels in the energy mix, supporting the decarbonisation of heavy industry and transport sectors.
The Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult has estimated that developing a green hydrogen industry could create 120,000 jobs and deliver a £320 billion to the UK economy by 2050.
Neil Kermode, managing director at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), said: “EMEC’s core purpose is to demonstrate technologies in new and inspired ways to decarbonise our energy system.
“This is the first time that a flow battery will have been coupled with tidal energy and hydrogen production.”
The centre will deploy an Invinity Energy Systems’ flow battery at the tidal energy test site on the island of Eday. The combination of tidal power and flow batteries will be used to power EMEC’s hydrogen production plant, demonstrating continuous hydrogen production from variable renewable generation.
Kermode added: “Following a technical review looking at how to improve the efficiencies of the electrolyser we assessed that flow batteries would be the best fit for the energy system.
“As flow batteries store electrical charge in a liquid rather than a solid, they can provide industrial quantities of power for a sustained period, can deeply discharge without damaging itself, as well as stand fully charged for extended periods without losing charge.
“These are all necessary qualities to integrate battery technology with the renewable power generation and hydrogen production process.”
Funded by the Scottish Government, via Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Invinity’s modular flow battery system will be assembled at the company’s manufacturing facility in Bathgate, West Lothian. The project is expected to go live next year.
Matt Harper, chief commercial officer at Invinity, said: “We are thrilled to be part of this Scottish success story, showcasing the best of clean energy technology, backed by Scottish Government, designed and assembled in West Lothian by highly qualified Scottish engineers and installed in the Orkney Islands.
“This project is truly groundbreaking. Because of their inherent variability, all renewable energy sources – including wind, solar and tidal – have difficulty providing the consistent power that industrial processes like electrolysis need to operate most effectively.
“Including energy storage in a comprehensive renewables-to-hydrogen system bridges that gap, providing a path to accelerated commercialisation of future green hydrogen projects.”
Scottish energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “We are delighted to support this world-first innovative energy systems project in Orkney, with £1.8 million of funding from the Scottish Government.
“The demonstration of hydrogen and systems integration with renewables will be a key part of our energy transition pathways and we look forward to watching the progress of this exciting and pioneering project, building on the strong track record of Orkney and EMEC, in particular, in demonstrating hydrogen and integrated energy systems.”