News and Updates

Official opening of the BIG HIT project in Kirkwall on 15th May 2018

The official opening of the BIG HIT project will take place in Kirkwall on 15th May 2018. This EU funded Building Innovative Green Hydrogen Systems In Isolated Territories (BIG HIT) project will show the important links between partner regions, and the opportunities for hydrogen and fuel cells to maximise the benefits of local renewables, add value and economic impact, and deliver the energy transition to low carbon systems.

The Hydrogen Territories Platform will show how regions can successfully replicate the BIG HIT approach in their own territories. The Hydrogen Territories Platform visit to see the facilities on Shapinsay and inaugural meeting on 16th May will be of particular interest to regions and organisations with locally constrained or under-exploited renewable energy sources, and intend to deploy similar hydrogen energy systems and technologies.

The Orkney Islands of Scotland were chosen in 2016 for the development of a new European-wide hydrogen project, building on the existing Orkney Surf ‘n’ Turf initiative. This wider European project is called BIG HIT (Building Innovative Green Hydrogen systems in an Isolated Territory: a pilot for Europe). BIG HIT is a five-year project, involving 12 participants based across six EU countries.

The Orkney Islands have over 50 MW of installed wind, wave and tidal capacity generating over 46 GWhr per year of renewable power, 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% 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.

BIG HIT builds on foundations laid by the Orkney Surf ‘n’ Turf initiative, which has established production of hydrogen on the island of Eday using wind and tidal energy. BIG HIT and Surf ‘n’ Turf are both recognised as world leading pilot and demonstration projects, which put in place a fully integrated model of hydrogen production, storage, transportation and utilisation for low carbon heat, power and transport. These projects have successfully address a number of operational and development challenges including the logistical and regulatory aspects for transport of hydrogen fuel between islands, and the orientation and familiarisation with new hydrogen building and transport technologies.

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 Foundation for the Development of New Hydrogen Technologies in Aragon).

The BIG HIT project has received funding from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking under grant agreement No. 700092. This Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, Hydrogen Europe and Hydrogen Europe research. The FCH 2 JU selected BIG HIT as the only hydrogen project of its kind to receive funding in 2016, and €5 million has been allocated to the project, which has total estimated costs of €10.9 million.

To register your interest for participation in either the BIG HIT launch on 15th May or the Hydrogen Territories Platform activities on 16th May please contact

Nigel Holmes