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Scotland Backs Study on Tidal Energy-to-Hydrogen Project

Nova Innovation tidal turbine
Tidal turbine (Nova Innovation)

Published May 11, 2023 4:56 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Scottish government has backed tidal power development for years, and it is taking its support a step further with a new fund for projects that marry tidal turbines with green hydrogen production. 

The new project - Green Hydrogen and Oxygen Supply from Tidal Energy, or "GHOST" for short - will study the generation and utilization of hydrogen and oxygen in the Shetland Islands, powered by tidal energy. The initiative is relatively unique for its plan to capture and use the oxygen that is produced as a byproduct of water electrolysis, the central electrochemical reaction in green H2 production. The Shetlands are home to the SaxaVord Space Centre, which could use the oxygen for rocket propulsion. Aquaculture operations could also potentially benefit from a local supply of commercial O2. 

On the energy supply side, the study will look at the feasibility of installing tidal power equipment near the isle of Yell, a designated "carbon neutral island" located just northeast of the Sullom Voe oil terminal. 

The project will be headed up by tidal power pioneer Nova Innovation, with support from partners at the University of Strathclyde, Shetland Islands Council and Ricardo Energy. Nova Innovation is the operator of a tidal array off the north coast of Yell and has plans to add another off the south coast. The region is known for its powerful tidal currents, as well as its prominent role in the UK North Sea offshore oil and gas ecosystem. 

“We believe that green hydrogen will transform the energy industry, deliver huge benefits for the people of Shetland with heat and transport, as well as creating the possibility of green space flight," said Simon Forrest, CEO of Nova Innovation. “With the opportunity to bypass electricity grid constraints, hydrogen is a promising route to market for tidal energy and other renewables.