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Energy / Tidal energy and Sullom Voe hydrogen studies secure government funding

One of the Nova Innovation tidal turbines deployed in Bluemull Sound.

A STUDY on potentially using tidal energy around Yell to generate hydrogen and oxygen for local use – including as rocket fuel for the SaxaVord Spaceport – has secured government funding.

Nova Innovation has been awarded just over £130,000 for the project through the Scottish Government’s Hydrogen Innovation Scheme.

Meanwhile Sullom Voe Terminal operator EnQuest has been given around £150,000 to undertake a study on the feasibility of producing hydrogen from treated water from the terminal’s water treatment plant via electrolysis.

The site has been earmarked by the operator as a possible future energy hub in the transition away from oil and gas.

Recipients of the government’s Hydrogen Innovation Scheme were announced on Wednesday, with £7 million pledged to 32 projects.

First minister Humza Yousaf said: “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.”

Hydrogen is seen as an energy of the future, and it can be made using wind power – such as from offshore.

In a speech given earlier today Yousaf said: “One of the reasons why offshore wind is such an exciting opportunity for Scotland is the availability of that low cost renewable energy that it can give us in relation to that competitive advantage in creating green hydrogen.”

Sullom Voe Terminal. Photo: BP

At Sullom Voe Terminal EnQuest said it “plans to aggregate and use the excess energy produced by the wind power from onshore and offshore wind farms being developed near the Sullom Voe site to make hydrogen and other products such as green ammonia or clean fuels”.

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It said it has an ambition of producing one million tonnes of hydrogen per annum, although some question marks have been raised over how achievable this may be.

EnQuest said it could also use existing deep-water jetty facilities at the terminal to export hydrogen to the UK, Europe and further afield.

Meanwhile Nova Innovation currently runs a pioneering tidal turbine array in Bluemull Sound, and has plans for another in Yell Sound.

But it is now set to explore the prospect of making by-products from tidal energy through its ‘Green Hydrogen and Oxygen Supply from Tidal energy (GHOST)’ scheme.

Other projects which have received funding include a study into treating water from the River Clyde to produce hydrogen, the establishment of a green hydrogen production learning, test and research hub in Stornoway and a storage and distribution facility at Glasgow Airport.

Meanwhile Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael has raised in parliament the prospect of Sullom Voe Terminal getting involved in carbon capture, utilisation and storage.

Carbon capture and storage involves taking CO2 emissions from industrial processes, transporting it via a ship or pipeline and storing it underground offshore, and it is seen as a component of the drive to net zero.

EnQuest has applied to the UK Government for licences for carbon capture areas to the north east of Shetland. The two sites involved are linked to the East of Shetland pipeline system, which runs into Sullom Voe Terminal.

Carmichael said the prospect of this activity running through Sullom Voe Terminal highlights a “need for a change to Ofgem’s remit to reflect Net Zero priorities”.

Secretary of state for energy and net zero Grant Shapps said: “This country has a vast storage reservoir beneath the North Sea, much of it once filled with oil and gas. There could be enough capacity to store up to 78 billion tonnes of carbon.”

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