Orkney's energy future in the spotlight

Orkney’s innovative energy sector has been celebrating more landmark moments this week.

The pioneering ‘Surf 'n' Turf’ hydrogen community energy project has been officially launched, and a new Energy Strategy for the islands has also been published.

The Scottish Government's Business, Innovation & Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, travelled to Orkney on Wednesday (27th September) to unveil the newly installed hydrogen fuel cell at Kirkwall Pier.

The official opening of the new fuel cell for the Surf N Turf project at Kirkwall Pier - image by Colin Keldie

It’s the final aspect of the hydrogen generation system being developed in Orkney as part of the Surf ’n’ Turf project. It also includes an electrolyser, which has been installed at the European Marine Energy Centre’s (EMEC) tidal test site in Eday. It produced the world’s first tidal-powered hydrogen in August this year, which will now be stored and transported to Kirkwall.

There the fuel cell will convert it back into electricity for use by the inter-island ferries whilst berthed at the pier.

As it’s produced from renewable electricity, Surf 'n' Turf's hydrogen is a clean fuel that causes no carbon emissions, and has many potential uses – including electricity supply, as a transport fuel for vehicles or ships, for heating, or to make fertiliser.

Find out how the Surf N Turf project works via this Community Energy Scotland video

The project is led by nationwide charity Community Energy Scotland, working with partners EMEC, Orkney Islands Council, Eday Renewable Energy, and ITM Power. It has received £1.3m of Scottish Government funding through the CARES programme and Local Energy Challenge Fund.

Meanwhile the new Sustainable Energy Strategy for Orkney presents a low carbon vision for the islands and aims to address local fuel poverty problems.

Unveiling the Orkney Sustainable Energy Strategy (from left to right) Gareth Davies, Chair of the Orkney Renewable Energy Forum; Mark Hull, Community Energy Scotland’s Head of Innovation: Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy; James Stockan, Leader of Orkney Islands Council; Graeme Harrison, Area Manager for Orkney for Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

It has been developed by the local Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Community Energy Scotland and the Orkney Renewable Energy Forum. It sets out five key targets for Orkney:

  • The achievement of ambitious carbon reduction targets.
  • The reduction and eradication of fuel poverty in Orkney.
  • Positioning Orkney as the globally recognised innovation region to develop solutions for the world’s energy systems challenges.
  • Ensuring a secure energy supply during transition to a low carbon future.
  • Maximising economic opportunity and investment in Orkney.

The next step will see an action plan developed to help the islands reach the goals set out in the Sustainable Energy Strategy.

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