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Event explores benefits green hydrogen can bring to rural communities

By University of the Highlands & Islands

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Hydrogen produced from renewable energy could be used in a number of areas.
Hydrogen produced from renewable energy could be used in a number of areas.

The benefits hydrogen technologies can bring to remote and rural communities was the subject of a free online event. Hosted by staff from the Environmental Research Institute at North Highland College UHI, the free webinar explored how green hydrogen could be used to provide energy for housing, transport and industry.

The event featured a presentation from Dr Steffen Møller-Holst, chair of the Norwegian Hydrogen Association and vice-president of marketing for hydrogen technologies at the Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research at the Norwegian Institute of Technology.

Dr Møller-Holst highlighted the potential that hydrogen technologies could have for Norway, which launched a national hydrogen strategy earlier this year.

Hydrogen is a non-toxic, colourless gas which can be used to store renewable energy. Most hydrogen is currently produced through a process which releases large quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. However, experts believe that green hydrogen, hydrogen made through electrolysis from renewable energy, could play an important part in helping us move to a zero-carbon economy.

Green hydrogen can be used to store energy from weather dependent renewable devices such as wind turbines to transport energy from remote and rural areas. It can also be used for applications where battery storage has limitations, such as large ships and heavy goods vehicles. These factors have led experts to suggest that green hydrogen technologies have the potential to provide economic benefits to remote communities.

The webinar, ‘Boosting the economy in remote communities via hydrogen technologies’, was organised in June as part of the Hydrogen Utilization and Green Energy (HUGE) project. The three-year project, led by the Environmental Research Institute at North Highland College UHI, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands, aims to provide communities with energy security and self-sufficiency by helping to facilitate the uptake of hydrogen technologies. The €1.4 million HUGE project is funded by the European Union Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme.

The project, with partners from Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Iceland, Finland and the Faroe Islands, focuses on raising awareness of green hydrogen as a viable energy option for remote and rural communities in housing, transport, and industry.

Communities across the programme area can face similar challenges to decarbonisation related to their remoteness and rurality. Often large renewable energy resources in the form of wind, marine, hydro and geothermal energy can be curtailed due to lack of grid connection, so the aim of the project is to provide solutions to utilise this energy via green hydrogen.

The project has developed best practice approaches across the region, learning from work being undertaken at places like the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney. It is also developing products such as a hydrogen supply chain hotspot map for partner countries and online learning platforms in conjunction with other European projects.

The project hosts a seminar series across northern Europe, which has had to move to an online format in response to Covid-19. Previous seminars have included ‘Decarbonising Ireland with zero-carbon technologies’ and ‘Green energy and new business opportunities for Finnish regions’. The next seminar with have a focus on green hydrogen solutions and the Faroe Islands.

‘Boosting the economy in remote communities via hydrogen technologies’ was attended and supported by representatives from across Scotland, the Faroe Islands, Ireland and Iceland. You can watch a recording of the webinar on the HUGE project’s YouTube channel and find out more about HUGE at www.huge-project.eu

Watch the webinar here:

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