A state-of-the-art demonstration and research facility powered by hydrogen fuel cell technology was officially opened by First Minister Alex Salmond as he visited the £4.7 million facility in Methil, Fife.  The facility, known as the Hydrogen Office, houses a hydrogen production system that captures surplus energy from a wind turbine, stores it as hydrogen and then uses a high efficiency fuel cell to generate electricity from the stored energy when required. The system was developed by the Pure Energy Centre in Unst, Shetland Islands.  With a renewables resource unparalleled in Europe, the technology is recognised to have significant potential to further leverage Scotland’s renewable energy reserves.

First Minister Alex Salmond opened the Hydrogen Office with Derek Mitchell, Project Manager, Adrian Gillespie of Scottish Enterprise and Dr Daniel Aklil of the Pure energy Centre (left to right)  Alex Salmond said: “This is a hugely exciting development for Fife and for Scotland’s low carbon industries as we work together to forge the new green economy.  The Hydrogen Office is playing a leading role in the development of a range of carbon-cutting technologies – from the provision of clean energy for electricity, heat and transport to storing renewable power from other sources such as wind, as demonstrated at the site.” About a third of Scotland’s electricity is already generated by renewables and, last autumn, the First Minister raised the national renewable energy target for 2020  to 80% of gross electricity consumed.

Derek Mitchell, Project Manager of the Hydrogen Office added : “The opening of the Hydrogen Office project by the First Minister marks the completion of the first phase of this exciting project.  Scotland has the potential to produce far more renewable energy than it currently generates for all its electrical needs; yet because we can’t control when we generate energy from some renewable sources this huge potential is still limited. There is no need for such a limit and this breakthrough charts the future to realising Scotland’s full potential.   Storing wind energy as hydrogen; which we can do in large quantities and for long periods, means we can then use this energy for virtually anything, including in our cars, our cooking, our homes and offices. We can do this without generating any pollution or carbon dioxide and we can use this energy regardless of whether the wind is blowing.” Scottish Enterprise chief executive Lena Wilson said that this highly innovative, low carbon energy facility offers high spec, energy efficient office space to encourage the development of renewable technologies.  It will serve as an international demonstration centre for renewable and hydrogen energy technology, capturing a share of the £3 trillion global low carbon market.”

Since commissioning last September, the 750kW turbine has exported over 350,000kilowatt hours (kWh) to the National Grid and over the course of a year, it will not only generate sufficient electricity and hydrogen for the heating and lighting requirements of the Hydrogen Office, but is also expected to export sufficient electricity to meet the annual energy demands of the Methil Docks Business Park.   The Hydrogen Office is part of  the Energy Park, a 134-acre site strategically located close to the new offshore wind farm leasing sites in the North Sea.   Fife’s flagship Energy Park, is expected to become one of Europe’s leading locations for innovation and development of renewable technology.

Up to 10 times Scotland’s electricity requirements

This world-leading energy solution will help reduce the impact of climate change and support the Government’s ambitious renewable energy targets, which could see Scotland producing up to 10 times its own electricity requirements in a generation.  Scotland has a competitive advantage in renewable power sources and the development and deployment of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies across the energy sector can help accelerate the achievement of a truly low carbon economy – supporting skilled jobs in Scotland and helping protect the planet for generations to come.”

The Hydrogen Office is a partnership project involving Scottish Enterprise, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Alsherra Investments Ltd, Fife Council, the Scottish Government and the Energy Saving Trust.

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