A HYDROGEN fuel technology project in Orkney has been awarded more than €2 million in EU funding.

The initiative, entitled Big Hit, will see a device which converts electricity to hydrogen fuel being installed. The project aims to use an electrolyser to convert excess electricity generated on the islands.

As part of it, 10 electric vans will be fitted with equipment which means they can use the hydrogen fuel to extend their range.

ITM Power has received the grant to install the electrolyser.

The islands have more than 50MW of installed wind, wave and tidal capacity, generating more than 46GWhr per year of renewable power, and has been a net exporter of electricity since 2013. Energy used to produce the hydrogen for Big Hit will be provided by the community-owned wind turbines on Shapinsay and Eday, two of the Orkney islands.

At present the Shapinsay and Eday turbines are often ‘curtailed’, losing on average more than 30 per cent of their annual output. In addition, their electricity output is limited by grid capacity restrictions in Orkney.

Production of hydrogen from this curtailed energy by electrolysis of water gives green hydrogen from renewable energy sources.

ITM chief executive Graham Cooley said: “Big Hit is a major step in turning the Orkney Islands into a genuine hydrogen territory. The deployment of 1.5MW of electrolysis and the operation of hydrogen logistics to provide a transport fuel and renewable heat is a very important part of that process.”