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The energy storage and clean fuel company has received a €5m EU grant for the BIG HIT (Building Innovative Green Hydrogen systems in an Isolated Territory) project funded by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (“FCH JU”). The FCH JU selected BIG HIT as the only hydrogen project in its Hydrogen Territories tender to receive funding. ITM Power is the electrolyser provider and will receive €2.27m over five years.

The Orkney Islands have over 50MW of installed wind, wave and tidal capacity, generating over 46GWhr per year of renewable power, and has been a net exporter of electricity since 2013. Energy used to produce the hydrogen for BIG HIT will be provided by the community-owned wind turbines on Shapinsay and Eday, two of the Orkney islands.

At present the Shapinsay and Eday turbines are often ‘curtailed’, losing on average more than 30% of their annual output. In addition, their electricity output is limited by grid capacity restrictions in Orkney. Production of hydrogen from this curtailed energy by electrolysis of water will give ‘green’ hydrogen from renewable energy sources with a very low carbon footprint.

BIG HIT will also enable the deployment of 10 electric vans, which will each be fitted with a hydrogen fuel cell range extender. A hydrogen refuelling station will be constructed in or near to Kirkwall at a site to be selected. The hydrogen fuel cells in these adapted vans will give them a wider range than their battery-powered electric counterparts. In order to demonstrate the potential scope hydrogen also has for heat uses in Orkney, the project will install two hydrogen-powered boilers at suitable premises to provide zero carbon heat.