Set For Hydrogen Power
James Freeman and Vicky Collins
want to turn Islay into the world's first hydrogen-powered
plan to make the clean fuel by treating water with electricity
generated from a wave power station already operating
on the island. They will then store the hydrogen in batteries
known as "fuel cells", which local people will
take home to run everything from tumble-driers to tractors.
plan is the brainchild of the Scottish Fuel Cell Consortium,
a grouping of scientists and businesses backed by Scottish
Enterprise. One of its leading figures, Professor Sinclair
Gair, of Napier University, Edinburgh, said yesterday
that the possibility of Islay as the ultimate "green-powered"
island was very real.
feasibility of large-scale hydrogen production and use
on the island is not in doubt," he said. "We
need business partners in the first instance.
know we can convert vehicles to use hydrogen fuel cells.
The next move is to power a public building, which we
think we have already identified, in Islay. The intention
is to show everyone where the future is, and in 10 or
20 years it is going to be a hydrogen future."
consortium will present the plan to island businesses
at a meeting in the Ardbeg Distillery on Islay tomorrow.
A full public meeting will follow quickly.
was picked because of its ground-breaking Limpet power
wave power station in the village of Portnahaven. Built
by the Inverness company Wavegen, the Limpet is the first
wave-driven power station to feed renewable energy directly
into the national grid.
Islay project is a UK leader at a time when governments
and industry across the world, faced with diminishing
fossil fuel resources, instability of oil supply, and
rampant global warming, are engaged in a dash to master
hydrogen fuel cell technology. There has been a particular
upsurge of interest in the technology in the United States
since the September 11 terrorist attacks, with car manufacturers
ploughing funds into developing hydrogen vehicles.
Currie, a local councillor and a board member of the Islay
Development Company, welcomed the project.
have always believed that Islay should be at the forefront
of the green energy revolution. This initiative is excellent,
very welcome, and fits in with the work of the IDC on
electric cars and buses and our plan for photovoltaic
cells in our new Gaelic school."
the dream is realised, green electricity from the wave
power station will be used to power a hydrolysing machine
- already in common use to make commercial hydrogen -which
will then be compressed, bottled, and can be used to feed
fuel cells to provide green electricity for everything
from industry, vehicles, public buildings to a crofter's
cottage. The continuously regenerating batteries produce
electricity from the combination of hydrogen and oxygen
in a catalyst, leaving water as the only "emission".
is hoped the Islay initiative will allow the UK to recover
lost ground in the field of renewable energy. Previous
governments' failure to invest in wind and wave power
meant the industry moved to Europe. Denmark is now the
world leader, although much of the technology was pioneered
MacLellan, manager of Bunnahabhain whisky distillery in
the north of the island, welcomed the plan and said he
would attend tomorrow's meeting.
that would help the economy and environment of the island
would be embraced by local residents, he said.
last year has been difficult in some ways for Islay. Although
we didn't have foot-and-mouth here, it did affect tourism
and the local creamery closed, which has hit some farmers.
is an upbeat sort of place though, and we are all adaptable
to change. It is certainly a very interesting idea, and
anything that is going to bring work or prosperity to
the island is at least worth trying."
is on to produce most eco-friendly vehicle
world's leading car manufacturers are in a race to be
first with hydrogen fuel cell production models.
Japan, and America are spending billions but Iceland is
well set to become the world's first hydrogen economy.
University students plan to convert a Glasgow City Council
van from conventional petrol drive to fuel cell power.
Bus already has an electric-engined bus that may be converted
to have its battery fed by a hydrogen fuel cell.
sports car, which is already driven by electricity, is
in the process of having a hydrogen-fed fuel cell added.