"The combined wind power and hydrogen facility on Utsira has become a globally recognized landmark in the development of new energy systems based on hydrogen. By continuing this project Hydro hopes to get even more experience and vital knowledge about combining wind and hydrogen," says Ulf Hafseld, responsible for business development in Hydro's unit for new energy.
The demonstration project on the island Utsira off the coast of western Norway started operating in summer 2004 and was scheduled to run two years. Hydro and its partner Enercon have now decided to extend the project until spring 2008. There is still much valuable experience to gain, together with the need to test new components and solutions for use on future facilities. Among other plans are testing of new internally designed electrolyser technology at the facility.
“The Utsira project has provided us lots of valuable experience in an area that the entire world is interested in and where Hydro is at the forefront of development. We now want to make some adjustments and try out new technological solutions to optimize the facility,” says Ulfstad, business development manager in Hydro’s New Energy unit.
Two wind turbines at the combined wind and hydrogen plant on Utsira produce power for 10 households. Surplus electricity is stored as chemical energy in the form of hydrogen. When the wind doesn’t blow, a hydrogen motor and fuel cell convert the stored hydrogen back into electricity. This way the two wind turbines can function as a stable and secure source of power to the tiny island community, even when it’s not windy.
“Since the Utsira project started up in 2004, representatives from the energy industry, media and tourists from around the world have visited. In 2004, the Utsira project won Platts Global Energy Award for best project within renewable energy, a very high distinction for all of us who work with energy,” says Hafseld.
The hydrogen on Utsira is produced through the electrolysis process. Water is split into hydrogen and oxygen inside an electrolyser. The oxygen is released into the atmosphere while the hydrogen is compressed and stored to make electricity when the wind is still.