Power from the hydrogen plant on Utsira

April 14, 2004, 16:00 CEST

The hydrogen plant on Utsira has started producing electricity. This means that the 10 households in the island community west of Karmøy are one step closer to becoming a self-sufficient hydrogen society.

From the summer, 10 of the households on the island of Utsira will get all their electricity in the form of renewable energy. This is the world's first full-scale autonomous renewable energy system based on wind power and hydrogen. Through this project, Hydro will demonstrate how a community can provide for its energy needs quite independently of fossil fuels.

"This is the first project in which we have set up a viable energy system based on renewable energy. The start of power production from the hydrogen plant represents an important milestone in our work to develop hydrogen as energy carrier," says Jørgen Rostrup, vice president of New Energy in Hydro.

Stabilizing operations

Power production from the hydrogen plant started at the end of March, and project management expects operations to be stabilized during the next few weeks.

The plant will not be complete until it has been fitted with a fuel cell. This will probably be installed during May. The cell will have the same function as the hydrogen generator; to produce electricity for domestic consumption when there is not enough wind for the wind turbines. The hydrogen plant is dimensioned to produce enough electricity for two days with no wind at all – circumstances which are extremely rare on Utsira.

"We are delighted that the plant is beginning to function as it shall. We are now looking forward to the stage when households can be linked up," says Rostrup.

Before then, the plant shall go through a test period involving coordination of the windmills and the hydrogen plant. The plant will be officially opened on 1 July this year, and the island households will, according to plan, be linked to the self-sufficient power system during the summer.