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Building Innovative Green Hydrogen systems in an Isolated Territory: a pilot for Europe

Periodic Reporting for period 4 - BIG HIT (Building Innovative Green Hydrogen systems in an Isolated Territory: a pilot for Europe)

Reporting period: 2019-09-01 to 2020-04-30

The Orkney Islands of Scotland are hosting the development of a €10.9 million hydrogen project, called BIG HIT: Building Innovative Green Hydrogen systems in an Isolated Territory. BIG HIT is a five-year demonstration project with 12 partners from across Europe that builds on the Orkney Surf ‘n’ Turf hydrogen initiative, helping build resilient local energy systems to overcome the issues of curtailed renewable energy.

Scotland is making great progress with the transition to a low carbon energy system. Latest figures for 2015 show that over 50% of Scotland’s annual electricity demand is from renewables, and Scotland’s overall greenhouse gas emissions are now 46% lower than in 1990. Much progress has been made with decarbonisation of electricity and focus is now turning to tackling heat and transport using a new whole systems approach for energy policy in Scotland.

The Orkney Islands, located just off the northern tip of Scotland, have over 50 MW of installed wind, wave and tidal capacity. These renewable sources produce over 100% of the electricity demand for the Orkney Islands from renewables on an annual basis. However their electricity output is often limited by grid constraints, which reduces output and lowers income for local communities. With BIG HIT this otherwise curtailed capacity will instead be used to produce ‘green’ hydrogen from electrolysis. BIG HIT will absorb curtailed energy from two wind turbines and tidal turbines on the islands of Eday and Shapinsay, and use 1.5MW of PEM electrolysis to convert it into ~50 t pa of hydrogen. This hydrogen will be transported across the islands and used for transport, heat and power end-uses in the community to heat a local school, and transported by sea to Kirkwall in 5 hydrogen trailers, where it will be used to fuel a 75kW fuel cell (which will provide heat and power to the harbour buildings, a marina and 3 ferries when docked), and a refuelling station for a fleet of 5 fuel cell vehicles.

BIG HIT is a pilot and demonstration project which aims to create an integrated low carbon and localised energy system in the Orkney Islands of Scotland. BIG HIT is establishing a replicable model of hydrogen production, storage, distribution and utilisation for low carbon heat, power and transport. BIG HIT was selected as the first hydrogen project to receive funding from the European Commission’s Fuel Cells Hydrogen Joint Undertaking ‘Hydrogen Territories’ call, and is a leading example of international cooperation to deliver a pioneering HFC energy system.

As specific objectives we can consider:
- Delivering the Local Authority’s Orkney Hydrogen Economic Strategy
- Conversion of 2.7 GWh/year of curtailed RE (wind & tidal) to H2
- Methodology to transport hydrogen
- Storage of 970 kg of H2
- Demonstrating replicable hydrogen economy solutions
- Possibility to export results to other isolated locations
- Environmental improvements
- Reduction of GHG emissions: 330 t pa CO2 equivalent
- Bringing Economic Benefits to Island Communities (savings and new jobs)
- Improve Local Public Acceptance of Hydrogen
- The Demonstration of Orkney as a Hydrogen Territory
- Contribution to FCH 2 JU MAWP (multi-annual work plan) targets
The project started the 1st of May of 2016, and right now the project has recently almots finished with the execution phase (only final commissioning of the H2 boiler in the Shapinsay School is pending due to the COVID-19 situation) and starting the project operation at the sites that have been already commissioned and with the equipment in operation. A 2nd unit of hydrogen boiler from Giacomini will be as well installed in the coming months.

Additionally to the actions related directly to the project execution and demonstration, in the framework of the WP5 and WP6, a platform called Hydrogen Territories Platform (HTP) is in the process of being definitively launched. The objective is to establish a replication methodology and the applicability of these business models to other EU Hydrogen Territories. The partners have carried out a high number of dissemination activities to announce the project to the hydrogen community.
At the current state of the project the impact of its activities cannot be measured, as the project demonstration has been running just for a short period of time. The COVID-19 situation affects the project operation, which is currently in safe mode. Only certain aspects can be commented and are presented as follows:

- Developing sustainable, replicable business models for remote hydrogen energy systems. The consortium has been working in the replicability tool that will support other territories to analyse possible business models by applying hydrogen and fuel cell technologies at their regions. The HTP Tool and website are right now ready to be shared with the potential members of the HTP.
- Compliance with Orkney Hydrogen Economic Strategy, following the project the requirements of the local communities.
- Contribution to 2020 European Energy Policies
- Contribution towards UKH2 Mobility Objectives, including a new fleet of vehicles and a HRS in the North of the UK.
- Dissemination of FCH technologies to be used in the so called Hydrogen territories. Theproject has raised a huge interest from other regions, manufacturers’ stakeholders and the general public of these communities.
HRS in Orkney
BIG HIT launch event
Project schematic
H2 gas trailer at Kirkwall Harbour
RE-FCEV in Orkney