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Cromarty Firth an ‘ideal location’ for the UK’s largest green hydrogen electrolyser

A feasibility study has identified the Cromarty Firth as an ideal home to the UK’s largest green hydrogen electrolyser.

The North of Scotland Hydrogen Programme ‘Distilleries Project’ study identified a number of sites around the Firth deemed fit to host a 35MW electrolyser facility by 2024 – capable of producing up to 14 tonnes of ‘green hydrogen’ per day.

This zero carbon fuel forms a key part of the Scottish Government’s decarbonisation strategy and would provide a significant contribution to the ambitions of becoming net zero by 2045.

The study examined the viability of a green hydrogen hub in the Cromarty Firth supplying distilleries in the region with hydrogen at a competitive price to help decarbonise their heating and processes.

It was backed by partners including ScottishPower, Pale Blue Dot, Port of Cromarty Firth, Glenmorangie, Whyte & Mackay and Diageo.

The report said the Cromarty Firth’s suitability was boosted by a large regional concentration of renewable energy potential, including future offshore wind development sites, which would be able to supply the volume of clean electricity needed for the electrolyser.

The study proposed a phased development for the facility.

Phase 1 would see the electrolyser in place by 2024 to meet local and distillery demands and to prove the technology at this scale, with a second phase leading to an expansion of green hydrogen to meet growing energy demands nationally and internationally.

Following the feasibility study, the project will now move into its next stage of development, which will include detailed engineering, community engagement and commercial development.

This will prepare the project for a final investment decision next year.

Bob Buskie, chief executive of the Port of Cromarty Firth, said: “Phase 1 of the electrolyser could be up and running, and the first hydrogen produced, by 2024 in what will be one of the biggest electrolysers in the UK.

“Such a facility will be a game changer not only for industries across the Highlands and Scotland, but also for the UK and internationally as we will be able to export green hydrogen to energy markets around the globe.”

Barry Carruthers, hydrogen director at ScottishPower, said: “Now, more than ever, we need to see more projects like this being developed across the country.

“We’re in a climate emergency and so we have to focus on zero emission technologies – green hydrogen offers the long-term, sustainable, zero emission solution for industries, sectors and businesses that cannot be supported by renewable electricity alone.”

Peter Nelson, operations director for the Glenmorangie Company, added: “We have all learnt a huge amount from the feasibility study into the potential of hydrogen as an alternative fuel source and excitingly for us it is firmly rooted in, and relevant to, the particular needs and challenges we all face in the North of Scotland.

“It is a great example of collaboration across different companies and sectors and we look forward to progressing discussions further.”

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