‘State-of-the-art’ hydrogen facility to open near Scottish windfarm

A hydrogen storage plant will be built at the UK’s largest onshore windfarm near Glasgow, after the UK government approved a £9.4m grant.

The Whitelee green hydrogen project will become the UK’s largest electrolyser, a system which converts water into hydrogen gas as a way to store energy.

Hydrogen is seen as a key replacement for fossil fuels in certain applications as the world moves towards decarbonisation. It produces just heat and water as by-products when burned or used in fuel cells, making it a highly attractive alternative to fossil fuels in industry, power, shipping and transport.

Hydrogen is categorised differently depending on how it is produced: either green hydrogen, which is produced by splitting water by electrolysis, or blue hydrogen, which is produced by splitting natural gas. Currently, the vast majority of the world’s hydrogen fuel is created with natural gas, not water.

While green hydrogen can be a zero-emission fuel when electrolysis is powered by renewables, blue hydrogen can only be described as a net-zero carbon fuel when used in conjunction with carbon capture and storage.

ScottishPower’s new Whitelee Windfarm, the largest of its kind in the UK, will produce green hydrogen by using the renewable energy created by the windfarm and will be used to supply local transport providers with zero-carbon fuel.

The state-of-the-art facility will be able to produce enough green hydrogen per day – 2.5 to 4 tonnes – that, once stored, could provide the equivalent of enough zero-carbon fuel for 225 buses travelling to and from Glasgow and Edinburgh daily.

Energy and climate change minister Greg Hands said: “This first-of-a-kind hydrogen facility will put Scotland at the forefront of plans to make the UK a world-leading hydrogen economy, bringing green jobs to Glasgow, while also helping to decarbonise local transport – all immediately following the historic COP26 talks.

“Projects like these will be vital as we shift to a green electricity grid, helping us get the full benefit from our world-class renewables, supporting the UK as we work to eliminate the UK’s contribution to climate change.”

Secretary of state for Scotland Alister Jack said: “This tremendous investment at Whitelee Wind Farm illustrates how serious the UK Government is about supporting projects that will see us achieve net zero by 2050.

“In the weeks following COP26 in Glasgow, it has never been more important to champion projects like this one, which embraces new hydrogen technology while creating highly-skilled jobs. We can, and will, achieve a greener, cleaner future.”

The Whitelee project will be the UK’s largest power-to hydrogen energy storage project, using an electrolyser powered by the renewable energy from the nearby windfarm.

An additional £2.25m in new government funding will support the development of hydrogen skills and standards in the UK.

In August, the Government published its first hydrogen strategy that includes different subsidy regimes depending on whether the fuel is produced with either green, or blue methods.

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