Port of Cromarty Firth (POCF) has launched a bold new programme for building a Highlands green hydrogen economy. This multi-partner plan involves the Port of Cromarty Firth together with SHFCA members ScottishPower and Pale Blue Dot, as well as other partners including Scotch whisky producers Glenmorangie, Whyte and Mackay and Diageo.

This new green hydrogen hub in the Highlands will see Scotland leading the way for the integration and deployment of hydrogen technology and decarbonisation of local industry. The North of Scotland Hydrogen Programme aims to develop a state-of-the-art hub in the Cromarty Firth to produce, store and distribute hydrogen to the region, Scotland, other parts of the UK and Europe. Up to 15 new offshore wind sites are due to be developed in the coming years, with a significant number of the schemes on the ‘doorstep’ of the Cromarty Firth. That, along with the Port’s deep waters, established facilities and location at the end of the gas grid and in close proximity to large amounts of renewable energy, make the area perfect for a green hydrogen hub.

One of the North of Scotland Hydrogen Programme projects will provide distilleries in the region with hydrogen. A feasibility study into this kick starter Distilleries Project will begin this month and is due to be completed in June. It is being privately funded by partners including ScottishPower, drinks giants Glenmorangie, Whyte and Mackay and Diageo and Pale Blue Dot Energy who are also leading the project. Sam Gomersall, Hydrogen Champion at Pale Blue Dot Energy, leaders of the feasibility study commented: “Scotland has the potential to be a global forerunner of green hydrogen production on a massive scale. It cannot be underestimated the hugely positive effect this would have on Scotland’s decarbonisation plans, as well as on jobs and the economy.”

The delivery of green hydrogen to Glenmorangie, Whyte and Mackay and Diageo will give them the opportunity to decarbonise the heating of their distilleries and maltings, which are situated close to the Cromarty Firth. This would be achieved by using hydrogen as a substitute for fossil fuels to create the energy needed to make steam so the distilling process can be achieved. Dr. Peter Nelson, Operations Director at The Glenmorangie Company commented “We enthusiastically support the development of the Green Hydrogen Hub on the Cromarty Firth. This would be an important stepping stone to provide a green energy resource for the whole of the North Highlands. The region has huge potential to generate renewable energy and the hub will ensure the region potentially becomes a centre for this emerging technology, providing an essential ingredient of the energy mix for a sustainable future.

Green hydrogen will be produced using electrolysers powered by electricity from renewable sources. Power would be supplied from current and future wind farms off the coast of the Cromarty Firth, as well as onshore schemes, and fed to the hub. Bob Buskie, Chief Executive of the Port, added: “In the short term, we have a number of local partners with vast experience in hydrogen, distilling and utility provision who want to decarbonise their operations. And in the long term, there is a huge opportunity to decarbonise Highland industry, transport and heat, as well as exporting green hydrogen to other parts of the UK and mainland Europe, which doesn’t have the same offshore wind capacity as Scotland.

Barry Carruthers, ScottishPower’s Hydrogen Director, concluded: “The North of Scotland Hydrogen Programme is a flagship project, showcasing how partnerships across energy and industry can deliver long-term, sustainable solutions for areas where electrification can’t reach. The Highlands of Scotland have been at the heart of the renewable energy revolution over the past two decades and now they look set to be at the centre of the green hydrogen revolution. We look forward to working with our partners on this project and begin our wider work to deliver green hydrogen across the UK.”

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