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Green hydrogen from tidal energy stored in a flow battery: a world first.

image credit: EMEC's onshore substation and hydrogen plant at Caldale, Eday. Image: Orkeny Sky Cam, courtesy of EMEC

philip LEijTEN's picture
Director Soka Solutions

Energy professional with comprehensive skill-set in the project development cycle across the technical, commercial and economic modeling space. Available to take on responsibilities for renewable...

  • Member since 2020
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Island states provide a fertile ground for testing innovative concepts in the energy transition: they are off the main grid and use (expensive) diesel as a mobility fuel (road and maritime) and fuel oil to heat homes. The island grid is small, causing it to quickly reach capacity when renewable energy production is at its peak.

The Orkneys is no exception. Already producing hydrogen from tidal and onshore wind energy (on the island of Eday), they are now adding a vanadium flow battery to help smooth the tidal generation and thus produce hydrogen on a more continuous basis. The use of a flow battery in this application is a world first. As its liquid storage medium slowly discharges its stored energy, the power is sent to a small electrolyser (670kW) which transforms water into H2 and Oxygen. The tide is predictable but its strength varies considerably between 2 low and 2 high tides each day. This kind of cycling would degrade a lithium battery quickly, significantly reducing its lifetime. That's where the flow battery comes in. This system is delivered by Invinity Energy Systems and typically delivers over 20,000 deep discharge cycles over their lifetime, without degradation. 

The hydrogen is stored and shipped to the mainland Kirkwall where it serves as a mobility fuel (road and sea) and to heat buildings. Neat.

Read more on:

#renewableenergy #hydrogeneconomy #tidalenergy #greenhydrogen #energytransition #netzero2050

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Nov 17, 2020

Really exciting stuff, and I love seeing it come out of the island communities. Would a successful pilot see it just sent to other similar island nations, or could it be proof of concept to then scale even larger? 

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