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Developers Make Progress on Solar-Powered Hydrogen Projects

Two projects focused on solar-powered hydrogen production made notable steps forward recently. One project, supported by Ricardo plc and the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), will investigate “using existing solar capacity to produce hydrogen as an alternative to high-carbon fossil fuels.” While the other, developed by HyperSolar Inc., will begin the manufacturing process for its first series of Gen 1 hydrogen panels.

Island Seeks to Reduce Fossil Fuel Use

The Ricardo/EMEC project follows on from work the two entities did assessing opportunities for hydrogen as a zero-carbon fuel for transport. The new solar-powered hydrogen production facility is being developed on the Isle of Wight (Figure 1)—an island off the south coast of England—using feasibility funding from the Rural Community Energy Fund. Wight Community Energy plans to test the viability of developing renewable energy solutions to support the local community and reduce environmental impact.

1. The surplus income provided through the use of an existing solar farm to produce hydrogen could help tackle fuel poverty for around 80 Isle of Wight households. Courtesy: Ricardo

“The constraints of the Island’s electricity network mean that a radical approach is needed if we are to be successful in achieving a shift to 100 percent renewable energy, an ambition we share with the Isle of Wight Council,” Colin Palmer, spokesperson for Wight Community Energy, said in a statement. “We believe that developing hydrogen production while expanding our existing solar capacity could be a really promising avenue to explore and we are excited to progress these feasibility studies.”

The new hydrogen facility will be one of two community-led renewable energy schemes on the Isle of Wight. Both have the opportunity to not only significantly reduce the Isle of Wight’s demand for fossil fuel-based energy, but could also provide financial support to the community. Potential users of the hydrogen include ferry and bus companies, the rail network, commercial vehicles, and marine propulsion. Alternatively, hydrogen generated from surplus solar energy could be used as a means of energy storage (Figure 2).

2. EMEC Hydrogen is a partner in a growing number of innovative energy systems and hydrogen demonstration projects. Courtesy: Colin Keldie

“Hydrogen has the potential both to displace the use of fossil fuels with [a] cleaner and more environmentally friendly alternative, as well as offering a means of storing and buffering energy from renewable resources such as wind and solar,” said Colin McNaught, transport energy infrastructure manager with Ricardo.

Richard Ainsworth, manager with EMEC Hydrogen, the arm focused on hydrogen innovation and demonstration, said: “It’s great to see the learning from our green hydrogen demonstrator projects in Orkney benefitting islanded communities at the other end of the UK. Our hydrogen projects focus on the generation of…

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2020-06-11 12:16:57

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