Iberdrola subsidiary ScottishPower has announced plans to develop, build and operate a “series” of green hydrogen projects in northern Scotland with a new partner, Storegga, a UK-based carbon capture and storage (CCS) developer.

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“The projects are expected to deliver hundreds of megawatts of green hydrogen production capacity before the end of the decade, with plans for the first project to be operating by 2024,” the companies said in a statement.

The “initial project phases” will be in the Cromarty Firth region of the Highlands, north of Inverness, including the first facility, to be known as the Cromarty Hydrogen Project.

A ScottishPower spokeswoman tells Recharge that the projects would be powered by “a mix of existing and new renewables” delivered by the utility, a major wind and hydropower operator.

Cromarty Hydrogen would start off small, delivering 20 tonnes of renewable H2 per day from 2024, with the potential to scale to 300MW “subject to customer demand”.

“It will displace existing fossil-fuel sources and enable the supply of green hydrogen into the heating process of [whisky] distilleries, with additional potential application to other local manufacturing, food production, and industrial heating applications,” the statement said.

A feasibility study for the project has already been completed by Scottish Power and Storegga in collaboration with major distilleries Diageo, Glenmorangie and Whyte & Mackay.

“The use of green hydrogen will decarbonise production processes, helping make Scotland’s national drink greener,” the statement adds.

Discussions are under way with other customers and industries, the companies say.

“As well as accelerating the potential for cleaner industrial heating processes, green hydrogen is poised to transform the heavy transport sector across the country, with clean fuel potentially powering vehicles such as refuse collection trucks, buses and HGVs [heavy goods vehicles],” they explain. “Green hydrogen is also a suitable alternative clean fuel for rail, air and shipping.”

Andrew Brown, head of hydrogen at Storegga — which is also leading the development of the Acorn CCS blue hydrogen project in Scotland, and the nation’s first direct air capture facility — said: “The Cromarty Green Hydrogen Project is expected to be the UK’s largest green hydrogen facility when it commences operations in 2024, and is expected to rapidly expand thereafter.

“Storegga has been working with the distilling sector on the energy transition since 2014. In 2019, the Scotch Whisky Association’s Pathway to Net Zero report identified that hydrogen would play a key role in enabling net zero for the distilling sector.

“Phase 1 of the Cromarty Hydrogen Project is expected to be the first of many as we develop a broader green hydrogen manufacturing capacity in Scotland this decade.