A plan to establish a “world-leading” green hydrogen hub on the Cromarty Firth has been launched today by a new partnership of companies, including utilities giant ScottishPower and three big names from the whisky industry.
The North of Scotland Hydrogen Programme (NSHP) aims to develop facilities in Easter Ross to produce and store the “clean” fuel to power businesses and homes in the Highlands, as well as other parts of the UK and Europe.
ScottishPower hydrogen director Barry Carruthers said the scheme would place the north at the “centre of the green hydrogen revolution”.
Distillers Glenmorangie, Whyte & Mackay (W&M) and Diageo are among the NSHP partners, along with the Port of Cromarty Firth (PCF) and Banchory-based consultants Pale Blue Dot Energy.
Green hydrogen is created using electrolysers powered by electricity from renewable sources.
Power for the proposed Highland hub would be supplied from current and future wind farms close to the Cromarty Firth, as well as onshore schemes.
As part of the project, a feasibility study into using hydrogen instead of fossil fuels to heat Glenmorangie, W&M and Diageo’s distilleries and maltings in the area is being launched this month. The four-month research is being funded by the drinks companies and ScottishPower.
Mr Carruthers said: “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.”
Peter Nelson, operations director with the Glenmorangie Company, said: “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 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.”
PCF chief executive Bob Buskie said development of the facility would give a “massive boost” to Scotland’s ambitions to decarbonise its economy and establish itself as a “global leader” in green hydrogen technology.
Mr Buskie 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.”
Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “Hydrogen will not only help us end our contribution to causing climate change, but
could also create significant economic opportunities.”