Scottish Power’s wind and solar farms will soon help produce green hydrogen to run buses, ferries and even trains as part of a pioneering strategic partnership to develop the UK’s nascent hydrogen economy.
The renewable energy company, owned by Spain’s Iberdrola, will work alongside companies that specialise in producing and distributing the zero-carbon gas. Hydrogen is expected to play a major role in helping the UK to meet its climate targets.
Scottish Power will use the clean electricity generated by a major new solar farm planned for a site near Glasgow to run an electrolyser, owned by its project partner ITM Power, which will split water into hydrogen and oxygen molecules.
The third company within the partnership, BOC, specialises in compressing and distributing gases and will help transport the hydrogen gas to councils, factories and transport depots across the country.
“Green hydrogen is something that everyone is talking about,” said Lindsay McQuade, the head of renewables at Scottish Power, “but we wanted to do something about it. This is a pioneering partnership which brings together skills from all the companies involved.”
The hydrogen gas can be used in place of methane-rich North Sea gas to run power plants, heavy machinery and transport vehicles without adding to the greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating the climate crisis.
Scottish Power’s first project will be based near a new solar farm that it plans to build near the site of the largest onshore windfarm in the UK: Whitelee, south of Glasgow. The site is also expected to be equipped with a “super battery”, which can store and release clean electricity when it’s needed.
The plans are expected to be replicated across the country using Scottish Power’s windfarms, solar panels and battery installations to use renewable energy when it is at its cheapest to run the electrolysers that create hydrogen.
“Our revolutionary approach – which really will be a game-changer – fully supports the large-scale transformation needed to replace heavy diesel vehicles with cleaner, greener alternatives,” McQuade said.
She said that by working with industry leaders such as ITM Power and BOC the partnership would be able to offer the operators of heavy vehicle fleets and industry “a packaged solution that brings all of the pieces of the jigsaw together – production, distribution, supply” from as soon as 2022.