“Whitelee keeps breaking barriers,” says Barry Carruthers, ScottishPower’s Hydrogen Director as he unveils the latest evolution of the sprawling site lying just a few miles outside of Glasgow.
“First the UK’s largest onshore windfarm, and soon to be home to the UK’s largest electrolyser,” he explains announcing the big news before adding, “The site has played a vital role in helping the UK to decarbonise – and we look forward to delivering another vital form of zero carbon energy generation at the site to help Glasgow and Scotland achieve their net zero goals.”
ScottishPower, an official partner for the forthcoming COP26 conference happening in the city itself, seem genuinely excited by the latest move.
They have lodged a planning application to deliver what would be the UK’s largest electrolyser – crudely explained, a tech that can produce hydrogen and oxygen by using an electric current to split water molecules – or green hydrogen.
It is a potentially important development in helping nations like Scotland run vehicles, especially fleet vehicles and buses, on non polluting fossil fuels.
The 20MW electrolyser will be a ‘key component’ of what would become a green hydrogen facility located close to ScottishPower’s Whitelee windfarm.
The application also includes plans for a combined solar, up to 40MW, and battery energy storage scheme, up to 50MW, to help power the electrolyser.
It comes as a partnership between ScottishPower, BOC and ITM Power.
They have a wider plan to create green hydrogen production facilities with so called clusters of refuelling stations across Scotland.
The partnership’s first project, ‘Green Hydrogen for Glasgow’, is designed to provide carbon-free transport and clean air for communities across Glasgow as well as helping support industrial hydrogen demand in the region.
Glasgow aims to become the first net-zero city in the UK by 2030 after being plagued by vehicle pollution in particular for generations.
The proposed green hydrogen project will be led by ScottishPower with the project engineered and operated by BOC, using wind and solar power produced by ScottishPower Renewables, and incorporate a 20MW electrolyser, delivered by ITM Power.
The project aims to supply hydrogen to the commercial market before 2023.
Green hydrogen is a zero carbon energy source which can be used by industries and companies that cannot fully electrify their operations to help them lower their emissions, for example, heavy duty transport like buses and bin lorries.
The technology gets its name from the green power source, normally wind or solar, used to power an electrolyser to split water into its core elements; hydrogen and oxygen gas. The hydrogen can then be stored and transported for use as needed.
The green hydrogen facility at Whitelee, the UK’s largest onshore wind farm, will house a 20MW electrolyser and would be able to produce up to 8 tonnes of green hydrogen per day, roughly equivalent to fuelling over 550 buses to travel from Glasgow to Edinburgh and back again each day.SCOTTISHPOWER
The facility will be powered by the 40MW solar farm, across 62,000 individual solar cells, and a 50MW battery energy storage scheme which are also part of the planning submission. The facility, solar farm and battery will be installed about 5km west of Lochgoin Reservoir and adjacent to the existing Whitelee Extension substation.
Graham Cooley CEO ITM Power, said: “This is an exciting milestone based on market development for green hydrogen for the city of Glasgow, that will see the UK’s largest electrolyser deployment to date being realised in Scotland.”
Mark Griffin, Hydrogen Market Development Manager for Clean Fuels at BOC said: “The scale of this project demonstrates the growing demand for clean hydrogen and as a member of the Green Hydrogen for Scotland partnership, we’re delighted to bring our hydrogen mobility and refuelling project expertise to help deliver a ground-breaking facility in Glasgow.”
Barry Carruthers added: “Green hydrogen has a vital role to play in Scotland and the wider UK’s journey to Net Zero emissions providing a sustainable energy source that can provide clean, renewable energy for industries, heavy transport and companies for decades to come.”
ScottishPower saiid they hoped the hydrogen production facility could support Glasgow City Council as well as surrounding local authorities in their ambitions to create a zero emissions vehicle fleet, using only electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles by the end of 2029.
A decision on the planning application is expected sometime in autumn 2021.