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Hydrogen Fuel Cell

Project Elements

Hydrogen Fuel Cell

A fuel cell mixes hydrogen with oxygen in such a way that it does not burn but instead reacts chemically, to make water and electricity. In other words, it's the reverse process to the electrolyser.

The fuel cell at Kirkwall harbour was installed in 2017 as part of the Surf 'n' Turf project. The dockside system was supplied by Arcola Energy and provides electricity on demand for ships (cold ironing) and for activity within Kirkwall Harbour. Heat produced by the fuel cell as a by-product of the chemical reaction will be piped into nearby buildings.

The hydrogen fuel cell at Kirkwall Harbour has a rated power output of 75kW. The system contains three Proton Motor PM 400 fuel cell stacks which are designed for industrial applications and can be used in maritime stationary  applications. Each of the three PM 400 stacks has a nominal electrical power output range from 4.0 kW to 30.0 kW and is almost completely silent in operation with zero emissions.

Fuel cell systems have tremendous potential in the field of energy conversion and represent a zero emissions alternative to conventional power generation. Fuel cells offer efficient fuel utilisation and, due to the use of hydrogen as the energy source, environmentally friendly operation. Additional characteristics of the systems are a high level of efficiency coupled with advantageous partial-load and load-change behaviour. These electro-chemical energy converters generate absolutely no emissions – when oxygen in the air and hydrogen fuel are exposed to each other in the fuel cell they react catalytically, generating the power in a fuel cell.  The end product of the electrochemical conversion process in the fuel cells is simply pure water.

The Kirkwall harbour fuel cell is designed to exacting marine standards, so it can also act as a training rig for ship engineers and crew members. This aspect of the Surf 'n' Turf project is laying the foundations for hydrogen to be used at sea. Through collaboration with Orkney Islands Council and Orkney College UHI, hydrogen training will be available on dry land using systems that meet marine specifications.

The Surf 'n' Turf project received £1.46m of support from Local Energy Scotland and the Scottish Government's Local Energy Challenge Fund. The project was led and managed by Community Energy Scotland, alongside partners EMEC, Orkney Islands Council, Eday Renewable Energy and ITM Power.

Surf 'n' Turf works closely with the European Commission's Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking and BIG HIT. These projects aim to establish hydrogen as an integral part of Orkney's energy mix, and to lay the foundations for the use hydrogen as a renewable zero-carbon fuel for power, heating and transport, including use of hydrogen a fuel on board vessels at sea.