Norsk Hydro is masterminding a project aimed at storing wind power in the form of hydrogen on the tiny island-municipality of Utsira on Norway's west coast. The island has a population of 250. The process would use current generated by a wind turbine to release hydrogen by electrolysis. The hydrogen would be stored on site as a gas or a solid compound for later use in a fuel cell. Hydro's director for new energy markets, Elisabet Fjermestad Hagen, says: "Electricity is currently supplied to Utsira by cable from the mainland, but the authorities are keen to make the island independent of this supply and to establish a green energy system. Hydro is interested in potential storage applications using electrolysis and fuel cells. It is important that the results be replicable for alternative markets." The company hopes to launch a six-month feasibility study this month with a demonstration project to follow. This would take the form either of "a grid-independent system with a minimum of guaranteed operational time and supply of electricity to the island's community centre" or "a practical demonstration of the interaction between electricity from the fuel cell and the grid."
Haugaland Kraft, current supplier of electricity to Utsira and owner of the grid on the island, has also agreed to take part in the project, Hydro says.