Western Isles set for green hydrogen future thanks to match-funded grant

Western Isles set for green hydrogen future thanks to match-funded grant

Plans to transform the Western Isles into a world-leading hub for clean energy production are to take a leap forward with the support of a match-funded grant from the Scottish Government’s Hydrogen Innovation Scheme’s Emerging Energy Technologies Fund, worth £1.129 million.

In a major vote of confidence for the Western Isles’ green energy future, clean power start-up PlusZero Ltd is to work in partnership with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and UHI Outer Hebrides to power up green hydrogen production at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Creed Park, Stornoway - creating new facilities for hands-on hydrogen technology training and next generation electrolyser research and field testing.

The Outer Hebrides currently has 420MW of consented onshore wind farm developments that are unable to progress to construction due to a lack of off-take capacity. PlusZero’s electrolyser will use surplus electricity produced by local onshore renewable power to produce green hydrogen via the electrolysis process.

The new Creed Hydrogen Skills and Innovation Centre draws together expertise from the public and private sectors, universities and local communities in a ground-breaking collaboration that will deliver the skilled workforce and robust hydrogen technology needed to support the Outer Hebrides ambitions to be Scotland’s leading green-hydrogen production hub - playing a key role in achieving the Scottish Government’s targets for delivering 5 gigawatts of hydrogen production by 2030.

Established in 2021, Harris-based PlusZero Ltd specialises in the production, distribution and operation of green hydrogen, and is a green hydrogen partner for Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

Paul Steele, leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said: “This project builds on the innovative hydrogen projects led by the Comhairle since 2007, when one of the first hydrogen refuelling stations in Scotland was installed at Creed Park. In addition to upgrading hydrogen production facilities, it will provide a platform for specialist hydrogen training to be provided locally by UHI Outer Hebrides, ensuring that workforce skills are available to take advantage of the growing green hydrogen economy.”

Uisdean Robertson, chair of transportation and infrastructure, added: “This is an exciting project which will allow further use of hydrogen as a fuel for heavy goods vehicles and buses and help the move away from fossil fuels to achieve zero emissions targets. As an island community, locally produced green hydrogen has the potential to be a net zero, sustainable vehicle fuel that is less impacted by global markets.”

David Amos, managing director at PlusZero, commented: “With its unique blend of extensive and highly scalable onshore and offshore wind assets, I am delighted that the Outer Hebrides will be home to this ground-breaking new Centre that will unlock the full promise of island-produced renewable energy by transforming it into green hydrogen - a near limitless, carbon zero, pollution-free source of fuel for the 21st century.

“PlusZero’s partnership with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and UHI Outer Hebrides, in collaboration with the community and local businesses, can go a long way to achieving the Western Isles’ rapid transition to a clean energy future by investing in the skills and innovation required to create jobs and a green hydrogen economy on the islands. With the support of the Scottish Hydrogen Innovation Scheme, we are making hydrogen happen.”

Hannah Ritchie-Muir, principal at UHI Outer Hebrides, said: “The Creed Hydrogen Skills and Innovation project has been created through collaboration and shared expertise. The support from the Scottish Government means our project can provide cutting edge facilities for the delivery of training and research and place the Outer Hebrides at the forefront of Green Hydrogen Technology. UHI Outer Hebrides is proud to play its part in the green revolution by providing access to training and research, which will support the creation of skilled jobs locally and create a clean energy source for our rural and island communities. As we move towards our planned merger with UHI North Highland and UHI West Highland, to form UHI North, West and Hebrides, we are well placed in terms of our location and expertise to provide the distinctive learning, research and innovation opportunities which will support jobs of the future in areas like net zero decarbonisation and renewable energy.”

The First Minister, Humza Yousaf MSP, concluded: “We have committed £100 million, over this parliamentary session, to supporting the green hydrogen sector. Part of that funding has been allocated to the Hydrogen Innovation Scheme, which supports feasibility studies, technical demonstrations and testing facilities for new ideas about how to produce, store and distribute hydrogen.

“I am pleased to be able to confirm today that through this scheme, grants worth a total of £7 million have been allocated to 32 different projects. The projects cover a wide range of different areas - such as how to produce and store hydrogen on floating windfarms, and how to decarbonise agriculture and forestry work in rural areas. Together, they show the range of possible ways in which hydrogen can be produced, used and stored. They highlight the expertise and innovation that is already such an important part of the sector. And, of course, they demonstrate the scale of the opportunities that hydrogen can create.”

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