Advertisement Advertisement
Advertisement Advertisement

BIG HIT for ‘Green Hydrogen’ in the Orkney Islands

The EU-funded BIG HIT (Building Innovative Green Hydrogen systems in an Isolated Territory) celebrated another milestone with the official handover of two hydrogen tube trailers from Calvera during the All-Energy 2018 event in Glasgow, Scotland. These new trailers increase the Orkney fleet of hydrogen tube trailers to five, for the transportation of ‘green hydrogen’ safely and efficiently and are seen as a significant step towards creating a Hydrogen Territory in the Orkney Islands.

The Calvera tube trailer handover to BIG HIT during All-Energy 2018 in Glasgow (photo courtesy EMEC).

The ‘green hydrogen’ is being produced on site at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) on the northern island of Eday. The hydrogen is then transported to Kirkwall, mainland Orkney, using the fleet of Calvera hydrogen tube trailers carried on board the inter-island ferry service.

This locally produced ‘green hydrogen’ supplies the hydrogen fuel cell installed at Kirkwall Harbour and will also be used for the Orkney Islands Council fleet of five Symbio Kangoo fuel cell range extended zero emission vans.

The new Calvera tube trailers can each carry up to 250 kg of hydrogen gas.

The delivery of these two hydrogen tube trailers is another important step by BIG HIT. This project is developing our low carbon energy systems capabilities in Scotland, and we are delighted to be part of this Europe-wide team. BIG HIT is demonstrating the important role of hydrogen and fuel cells for realising additional local benefits from renewable energy, and this great project will help many other islands and communities to achieve similar benefits, said Nigel Holmes, CEO of the Scottish Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Association (SHFCA), and Communications Manager for the BIG HIT project.

Orkney Islands Council has taken a leading role in the BIG HIT project, by purchasing five electric vans which have each been fitted with a hydrogen fuel cell by Symbio, a leading European developer of hydrogen fuel cell systems designed for the transportation markets.

These adapted Renault Kangoo vans are part of the Council’s operational fleet, and the hydrogen fuel cells give these them twice the normal operating range compared to their battery-powered electric counterparts.

As part of demonstrating the potential scope that hydrogen has for practical uses in Orkney, a small hydrogen-powered boiler will be installed at Council premises on the island of Shapinsay.

By piloting the generation of hydrogen from renewable energy sources, BIG HIT is helping avoid grid shortcomings, while supporting further development of renewable energy projects in Orkney. It is breaking through the barriers to delivering renewable transport and heat, opening up new markets around the world, said Neil Kermode, Managing Director of EMEC.


BIG HIT (Building Innovative Green Hydrogen systems in an Isolated Territory: a pilot for Europe) is a five-year project, involving 12 participants based across six EU countries, and started in May 2016. The EUR 10.9 million project has received EUR 5 million funding from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking which in turn receives support from the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, Hydrogen Europe and Hydrogen Europe research.

The local authority partner in BIG HIT is Orkney Islands Council, providing local input together with the Shapinsay Development Trust (SDT), Community Energy Scotland (CES), and the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC). Calvera, Giacomini, ITM Power, and Symbio are the industry partners providing equipment and technical expertise. Technical University of Denmark (DTU) is the technical partner and the Scottish Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Association (SHFCA) is dissemination partner.

The Ministry for Transport and Infrastructure (MTI) represents Malta as the lead follower territory for project replication. The overall BIG HIT project coordinator is Fundación Hidrógeno Aragón (FHA).

The Orkney Islands were chosen for the BIG HIT project to build on the existing Orkney Surf ‘n’ Turf initiative. The Orkney Islands have over 50 MW of installed wind, wave and tidal capacity generating over 46 GWh annually, and has been a net exporter of electricity since 2013.

Energy used to produce the hydrogen for BIG HIT is provided by the community-owned wind turbines on the islands of Shapinsay and Eday, two of the islands in the Orkney archipelago. At present the Shapinsay and Eday wind turbines are often ‘curtailed’, losing on average more than 30 percent of their annual output, with their electricity output limited by grid capacity restrictions in Orkney.

The otherwise curtailed capacity from the locally owned Shapinsay wind turbine will be used by the BIG HIT project to split the component elements of water, by the process of electrolysis, to produce low carbon ‘green’ hydrogen and oxygen using a 1 MW PEM electrolyser.

We're using cookies. Read more