By Kristy Dorsey

A project with the power to fuel more than 51,000 buses a year on clean hydrogen is set to go ahead within the next six months following the formation of a new green energy partnership.

The renewables arm of ScottishPower has joined forces with BOC and ITM Power to launch the Green Hydrogen for Scotland partnership offering an “end-to-end” market solution for powering larger vehicles not suited for electric vehicle (EV) technologies. Its first project, Green Hydrogen for Glasgow, will see the construction of a new production facility near Whitelee Windfarm, where ScottishPower will add an extra 35MW to the current 539MW of capacity.

This extra wind power will be used to fuel a 10MW electrolyser provided by ITM Power to extract hydrogen from water, meaning the entire process is completed without any carbon emissions. This fuel will be made available to organisations such as local authorities and others with fleets of heavy vehicles.

Planning permission for the new production facility is expected to be submitted within the next six months. The site will be operated by BOC, which will also be responsible for managing refuelling sites that will be installed near the depots of end-users.

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The project aims to be supplying hydrogen to the commercial market within the next two years, supporting Glasgow’s goal to become the first net-zero city in the UK by 2030. As part of that, the city council has set a target of achieving a zero emissions fleet, using only electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles, by the end of 2029.

“Making transport cleaner and greener is one of the key issues at the heart of how we can unlock net zero and achieve the ambitious climate change targets set out at both regional and national level,” said Lindsay McQuade, chief executive of ScottishPower Renewables.

“While electrification will play a significant role in taking petrol and diesel vehicles off our roads and make an important difference to the planet, it can only go so far, and we’re doing something about that. Our revolutionary approach – what really will be a game-changer – fully supports the large-scale transformation needed to replace heavy diesel vehicles with cleaner, greener alternatives.”

ScottishPower says that if the electrolyser runs at 70 per cent utilisation, it will generate 2,800kg of hydrogen per day.

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In the case of an average fuel cell car, which has a 5kg tank, this would fill 560 cars per day, all with a range of 300 miles. That equals 204,400 cars per year.

In the case of an average 20kg tank fuel cell bus, it would fill 140 vehicles per day, all with a range of 140 miles. That’s equivalent to 51,100 buses per year.

Graham Cooley, chief executive of ITM Power, said his company is proud to be participating in the project.

“Green Hydrogen for Glasgow is an important step forward for the city’s net zero targets and enables Scotland to demonstrate that its most densely populated urban areas can fully utilise its abundant local renewable energy resources to decarbonise its transport system and industry,” he said.

There is not yet an estimated cost for the construction of the new hydrogen production facility. However, the project’s partners have said that once it is completed, they will examine the case for building similar networks in other parts of the country.

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Mark Griffin, market development manager for clean fuels at BOC, said: “Forward-thinking councils are putting green hydrogen at the centre of their transport strategies to help achieve their net-zero targets.

“We already operate Europe’s largest hydrogen production and refuelling site in Aberdeen and are looking forward to working with councils across Scotland to develop more projects in partnership with SPR and ITM Power.”

Ms McQuade added: “By working with industry leaders ITM Power and BOC to bring our collective expertise together, we will maximise the potential of this new technology to offer fleet operators and industry a packaged solution that brings all of the pieces of the jigsaw together – production, distribution, supply.

“All they have to do is provide the vehicles. We have a huge opportunity here to bring net zero ever closer for the benefit of everyone and support a better future, quicker – and we will make it happen.”