A new net zero energy hub located as part of a deep water port in Stornoway has secured £1m in government ‘pathfinder’ funding.

The low carbon centre at Arnish Point will be one of five local authority projects selected by the Scottish Government and Scottish Futures Trust Green Growth Accelerator (GGA) programme.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar joins Aberdeen City, City of Edinburgh, Highland and North Lanarkshire Councils to drive forward vital investment in low carbon infrastructure.

The funding is allocated for the development phase and learning from the pathfinders will unlock £200m of further investment from the Green Growth Accelerator programme from 2023.

The Comhairle’s Net Zero Hub will produce Green Hydrogen by electrolysis of water for use in local industrial processes, heat and transport. 

Plans are also being worked up by the Comhairle’s demand partner, PlusZero, to export ‘Hebridean Hydrogen’ through Stornoway Port Authority’s new deep water terminal for use at UK festivals and in North Sea shipping.  

A secure supply of renewable electricity is important for electrolysis and the Comhairle’s Energy Unit is in advanced discussion with a  global energy services company around the deployment of an innovative floating Offshore Wind and Wave platform off Arnish which will send renewable electricity directly to electrolysers at the Net Zero Hub.

Future rollout of the Net Zero Hub will see the facility supplied with green electricity from community-owned Onshore Wind and shared community ownership in Offshore Wind, the latter becoming possible as the Comhairle’s Energy Unit concludes shared ownership agreements with major ScotWind Offshore Wind developers deploying around the islands.

Just transition minister Richard Lochhead MSP, said, “These pathfinder projects have real potential to deliver lasting and long term benefits for local communities and I look forward to them progressing and, in doing so, testing and demonstrating how we can continue to work together to accelerate vital investment in green infrastructure.”

Cllr Roddie Mackay, Comhairle council leader, added: “This award reflects the ambition of the Comhairle to decarbonise our local economy and society. We have the renewable energy resources required to help us achieve Net Zero (carbon emissions) well ahead of Scotland and the rest of the UK and we are aggressively pursuing opportunities in future energy solutions such as Hydrogen. 

“We are thankful to the Scottish Government and Scottish Futures Trust for recognising this ambition and choosing to support us through the highly competitive Green Growth Accelerator programme.  ‘Pathfinder’ status will allow us to develop a full business case for the Net Zero Hub, demonstrating the deliverability of offshore wind electricity generation for landside electrolysis, seabed storage of hydrogen gas, local distribution and use of hydrogen and the export of Hebridean hydrogen to UK and European markets by ammonia or methanol conversion. 

“This award, taken along with the £11M already allocated to the Net Zero Hub through the Islands Growth Deal, puts us on track to become one of the leading green hydrogen production centres in the UK, if not Europe.”