UK’s largest electrolyser to supply hydrogen storage facility at Scottish windfarm

Posted: November 22, 2021 by oldbrew in Energy, hydrogen, net zero, Subsidies, Travel, wind
Tags: , ,

Whitelee wind farm, Scotland [image credit: Bjmullan / Wikipedia]

Here’s the UK government’s latest shot at ‘net zero’ climate virtue signalling. Subsidised wind farms will help produce subsidised hydrogen to fuel subsidised hydrogen vehicles such as buses and bin lorries. This is obviously even more costly than just using the wind-sourced electricity itself to run vehicles, but gets round the battery weight problem for larger vehicles like buses and goods vehicles. But to scale up, the number of wind turbines needed is going to have to be far higher than now, to provide fuel as well as nationwide electricity. Is that even feasible, let alone affordable?
– – –
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, reports E&T News.

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.

Full report here.

  1. […] UK’s largest electrolyser to supply hydrogen storage facility at Scottish windfarm […]

  2. stpaulchuck says:

    after they fill it you want to put some cameras on it 24/7 to catch the moment it goes BOOM! Ought to be a great watch!

  3. Graeme No.3 says:

    I wonder what wonderful new technology they have discovered to make burning hydrogen in air produce only water vapour?
    Hydrogen has a high ignition temperature and burning it in air causes some generation of nitric oxides (similar to the well known effect of lightning strikes from their high temperature). Not much of a problem and probably no more than produced by a diesel vehicle but look at the fuss over that.
    If you generate nitric acid in your atmosphere on a large scale, what will it do to the nearest metal objects (buses?) and to the lungs of drivers and passengers? I see a new campaign “welcome to your new CLEAN GREEN transport, please adjust your gas masks. Request stops at the hospital will be available on return journeys.

  4. oldbrew says:

    Is magnesium hydride tech going anywhere? Cost could be a killer problem.

    Magnesium hydride is the fuel of the future – 10 times better than the battery
    February 13, 2021

    Hydrogen is considered the fuel of the future, but its storage as such requires a heavy pressure tank. The car can hold a tank, but the motorcycle is not right, not to mention the planes. What help?

    For example, a paste based on magnesium hydride (MgH₂) which releases hydrogen when reacting with water. Thus, a light vehicle would carry with it two tanks: one for paste and one for water.

    The hydride paste developed by the German Fraunhofer Research Institute would also be beneficial for infrastructure and not just for small vehicles. The storage and pumping of the paste would not require the same expensive equipment as gaseous hydrogen.

    According to the researchers, the service station would survive with investments of “a few tens of thousands of euros”, where gaseous hydrogen will swallow 1-2 million euros. At the order of magnitude level, it could therefore be said that the distribution infrastructure of hydrogen paste would be 30 times cheaper.

  5. Gamecock says:

    ‘Hydrogen is seen as a key replacement for fossil fuels in certain applications as the world moves towards decarbonisation.’

    Begging the question fallacy. The world is doing no such thing!

    ‘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’

    What is that in “homes” units?

    Or Gamecock’s favorite: What is that in Hiroshima bombs?

  6. oldbrew says:

    a system which converts water into hydrogen gas as a way to store energy.

    We already have abundant stored energy from nature: coal, gas and oil (plus wood). They’re reinventing the wheel, but the new one is much smaller, more expensive and harder to handle.

  7. oldbrew says:

    When the going gets tough, send for…Big Oil.

    Joe Biden to release millions of barrels of oil along with UK to drive down fuel prices

    The unprecedented move comes as the president’s approval rating sinks due to soaring prices at the pump hitting ordinary Americans

  8. cognog2 says:

    £210 million for Nuclear and £9.4 million for this hydrogen scheme? Seems the priorities have got very twisted; particularly as this hydrogen scheme will NOT actually achieve anything except perhaps a few green votes. What is sure is that we the consumers/tax payers will pick up the tab. Energy inflation here we come?

  9. cognog2 says:

    Interesting. Much would depend on the energy required to produce the paste. Also; How would the Mg (OH)>2. affect the environment?

  10. oldbrew says:

    cognog2 – if it’s recoverable…

    Magnesium hydroxide is used in suspension as either an antacid or a laxative, depending on concentration
    – – –
    To be clear, the input is magnesium *hydride*.

  11. Gamecock says:

    ‘once stored’

    What’s that supposed to mean? Gonna need some outside electricity to pump it and compress it?

    ‘could provide the equivalent of enough zero-carbon fuel for 225 buses travelling to and from Glasgow and Edinburgh daily.’

    Could? Not “will?”

    They are going to build a tank, then fill it. Which will save England.

    “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”

    Word salad.

    “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.”

    Dude, a “green electricity grid” is fantasy.

    ‘E&T is published by the IET for its members through the wholly owned subsidiary IET Services. The magazine is editorially independent of the Institution and the views expressed in it do not necessarily reflect those of its editors or publishers.’

    Why not? E&T owns it. How can E&T stand for such junk science to be produced in their name?

  12. oldbrew says:

    No such thing as cheap hydrogen production. If there was profit in it without subsidies the market would take care of it.

  13. Gamecock says:

    Indeed, oldbrew.

    “How can you make wind generated energy even more expensive?”

    “Use it to make hydrogen.”

  14. oldbrew says:

    Sturgeon floats hydrogen exports in bid to power Scottish independence

    Scotland seeks to create hundreds of thousands of jobs by forging new energy ties outside the UK
    21 November 2021

    Scotland has started exploring the possibility of one day sending vast quantities of hydrogen to energy-hungry Germany. It follows a Scottish Government report which found that exporting green energy to Europe could create 300,000 jobs by 2045.
    – – –
    300,000 jobs by 2045 — as per usual ‘green’ fantasies. How is the hydrogen subsidised by the whole UK supposed to get to Germany?

    Independence is fading in popularity anyway, according to this…

    A YouGov poll has suggested that opposition to independence among Scots is now more popular than independence by a six-point margin. Perhaps more interestingly, the First Minister’s personal popularity has plummeted by nearly 40 per cent since the height of the pandemic in August last year.

  15. It doesn't add up... says:

    Late to the party on this. But the planning application was actually for a solar farm to drive the 20MW electrolyser, plus a 50MW/100MWh battery farm to spread its output across the day a bit. I looked at the performance of a nearby solar installation in Cumbernauld, which was generating about 800kWh/kWp p.a., or a paltry 9.1% capacity factor, consistent with the Northerly latitude and frequent clouds and rain. The battery is mainly predicated on provided grid ancillary services.

    Click to access SPR_BESS_Whitelee_-_PIE_summary.pdf

    The images of the solar panels in filed look highly misleading to me: the first rule of thumb is that panels should be inclined at roughly the angle of the latitude for optimal results.

    The electorlyser is a slightly larger version of the one at the Shell Wesseling refinery where the EU sponsored REFHYNE project is in progress. They have just released some studies looking at the economics (although somewhat outdated by the big change in energy markets) which nonetheless contain some interesting technical information and analysis of the difficulties of making the thing work as an economic proposition. Among the things they note are the potential for the unit to provide ancillary grid services as an additional income stream. more detail here

    Click to access Policy-Report-Overview-Slides.pdf

    and here

    Click to access D7.2-report-v7.0-clean.pdf

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s