A new state-of-the-art hub for eco-friendly hydrogen is set to be created in the Highlands, helping Scotland tackle climate change and move to a greener economy.
The ground-breaking facility, based on the Cromarty Firth, will produce ‘green’ hydrogen from water through a process powered by renewable energy.
It will also store and distribute the gas to the local region, as well as exporting to the rest of Scotland, other parts of the UK and even Europe.
The clean fuel will be used to help decarbonise heating, transport and industry, with future plans to power nearby whisky distilleries.
Green hydrogen, which is made using renewable energy, is seen as an eco-friendly alternative to natural gas, a fossil fuel.
The gas will be created at the new hub using electrolysers powered by electricity from offshore and onshore wind farms in the area.
The North of Scotland Hydrogen Programme is a multi-partner project involving the Port of Cromarty Firth, ScottishPower, Pale Blue Dot Energy, distillers and other businesses.
The new hub will see Scotland become a world-leader in hydrogen technology, according to the team behind the ground-breaking project.
Bob Buskie, Port of Cromarty Firth chief executive, said: “In the short term we have a number of local partners with vast experience in hydrogen, distilling and utility provision who want to decarbonise their operations.
“And in the long term there is a huge opportunity to decarbonise Highland industry, transport and heat, as well as exporting green hydrogen to other parts of the UK and mainland Europe, which doesn’t have the same offshore wind capacity as Scotland.”
Barry Carruthers, ScottishPower’s hydrogen director, said: “The Highlands of Scotland have been at the heart of the renewable energy revolution over the past two decades and now they look set to be at the centre of the green hydrogen revolution.”
Drinks firms Glenmorangie, Whyte and Mackay and Diageo have plans to use hydrogen as a substitute for fossil fuels to create the energy needed to drive the distilling process.
A feasibility study into the distilleries project will begin this month and is due to be completed in June.
Dr Peter Nelson, operations director at Glenmorangie, said; “The region has huge potential to generate renewable energy and the hub will ensure the region potentially becomes a centre for this emerging technology, providing an essential ingredient of the energy mix for a sustainable future.”
Sam Gomersall, of Pale Blue Dot Energy, which is leading the feasibility study, added: “Scotland has the potential to be a global forerunner of green hydrogen production on a massive scale.
“It cannot be underestimated the hugely positive effect this would have on Scotland’s decarbonisation plans, as well as on jobs and the economy.”
The port’s deep waters, established facilities, location at the end of the gas grid and close proximity to abundant renewable energy make the area ideally suited to host the hub.
Scottish energy minister Paul Wheelhouse has welcomed the hub.
He said: “The North of Scotland Hydrogen Programme is an exciting example of collaboration and regional hydrogen innovation required to realise the significant economic and environmental potential that hydrogen presents in Scotland.”