ScottishPower planning ‘UK’s largest’ green hydrogen electrolyser near Glasgow

Pictured: Turbines at the Whitelee wind farm. Image: ScottishPower

The energy firm claims that the project would be the largest of its kind in the UK if approved. A planning application for the electrolyser, as well as a combined solar and battery storage array, was submitted late last week.

According to the plans, the electrolyser could produce up to eight tonnes of green hydrogen every day. It will separate water into hydrogen and oxygen gases in a process powered by renewable electricity.

The solar array, meanwhile, will have a 40MW generation capacity. The Whitelee wind farm boasts more than 200 turbines and has a 540MW capacity. Electricity from both facilities will be stored using a new 50MW battery array. The UK Government notably moved to relax planning rules for co-located battery storage last year, making it easier for developers to secure permission for large arrays.

ScottishPower is collaborating with BOC and ITM Power on the project and has dubbed the collaboration the ‘Green Hydrogen for Scotland’ partnership. The partnership is aiming to supply hydrogen to businesses by 2023 and believes demand will be high from the transport sector and heavy industry firms. It expects a final decision on the planning application this autumn.

“With all eyes set to be on Glasgow later this year as the city hosts COP26, it’s fantastic to be making this next important step towards delivering green hydrogen for Glasgow,” ScottishPower’s hydrogen director Barry Carruthers said.

“Whitelee keeps breaking barriers, first the UK’s largest onshore windfarm, and soon to be home to the UK’s largest electrolyser.

“The site has played a vital role in helping the UK to decarbonise and we look forward to delivering another vital form of zero-carbon energy generation at the site to help Glasgow and Scotland achieve its net-zero goals.”

Scotland’s net-zero target is 2045 – five years earlier than the UK as a whole. The Scottish Hydrogen Policy Statement is headlined by an ambition to generate 5GW of low and zero-carbon hydrogen by 2030.

All eyes on hydrogen

The news from ScottishPower comes as MPs return to Westminster after the Easter recess. The publication of the Hydrogen Strategy is, therefore, due imminently. This policy package will build on the £500m earmarked for hydrogen in the Ten Point Plan from last November. This initial funding pot will support the delivery of 5GW of low-carbon hydrogen production capacity this decade.

Aside from the ScottishPower project, renewable hydrogen projects are underway in locations including the Humber and the Isle of Wight. BP has also announced plans to build the UK’s largest blue hydrogen production facility in Teesside. Blue hydrogen is generated by splitting natural gas, with up to 98% of the emissions from this process then captured using man-made technology.

Energy transition

In related news, Electricity North West has drafted plans to invest almost £2bn in the low-carbon transition before 2028. It said in a statement that the funding is needed to help the infrastructure and skills transitions in line with trends like renewable electricity generation and electric vehicle (EV) use.

The plan proposes an investment of £1.97bn between 2023 and 2028 – a 44% increase on the current period. This funding would be used to accommodate the predicted rise in demand as electrification continues.

Funding is also earmarked for delivering a ‘just transition’, supporting low-income and other vulnerable customers to avoid any increased costs from the net-zero transition.

Electricity North West will submit the plans to Ofgem this summer but is consulting with households and businesses in the region first, through an online questionnaire. The firm covers 2.4 million properties and is aiming to reduce emissions by 68% by 2030.

“The challenge of delivering stretching environmental ambitions on net-zero while keeping bills low and making sure we don’t leave anybody behind is tough,” Electricity North West chief executive Peter Emery said.

“Our research has shown that 80% of customers are willing to pay an additional £9.80 to achieve our ambitious proposals – but that means 20% are not. We have worked hard to find a solution through innovation and efficiencies where we can deliver that high level of investment for just £2.14 extra a year on the average household bill.”

Sarah George

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