Orkney Islands Council was named winner at a national awards ceremony this week for its work on the Big HIT project.
The Council scooped the Driving Efficiency through Technology prize at the Local Government Chronicle awards which were held in London on Wednesday night.
The BIG HIT project has seen the council engage in a multi-agency partnership to show that Orkney can become a 'replicable Hydrogen Territory', using curtailed renewable electricity generated locally to produce hydrogen that can then to be used as clean energy for heat and transport.
The Council is a key partner in the project, which involves 12 organisations based in six European countries and is funded by the EU.
The project aims to demonstrate how hydrogen produced locally using renewable energy can be used sustainably in ways which benefit islands and other remote communities.
The Council has taken a leading role by purchasing five electric vans, replacing existing diesel vans, which have each been fitted with a BIG HIT-funded hydrogen fuel cell, giving them twice their normal operational range.
The electricity produced by community owned turbines is often ‘curtailed’ by grid capacity constraints. By switching output to hydrogen production when this happens, the turbines will be generating a greater income for their communities, as well as a versatile and sustainable fuel.
In addition to the local community projects BIG HIT will demonstrate that hydrogen has a wider value to the local economy and will be transported to the mainland of Orkney on the inter-isles ferries through the use of a specially designed hydrogen tube trailers, which can be transported by local hauliers. The end uses for the hydrogen on the mainland of Orkney will include auxiliary power and heat for ferries in Kirkwall harbour. Other potential developments include hydrogen boilers to be installed at Shapinsay primary school and the potential to provide hydrogen into the Hydime and Hyseas iii hydrogen ferries projects.
Judges described the project as a 'fantastic example of cutting edge collaboration through world-leading technology, solving a local problem with positive global consequences. Very impressive, pioneering technology – absolutely world-leading – with the council playing a strong facilitation role. Orkney is building on 5,000 years of innovation, and leading ground-breaking solutions'.
Councillor Graham Sinclair is Chair of the Council’s Development and Infrastructure Committee. He said; “I congratulate the Council team on their achievement – we are delighted that our islands have this opportunity to serve as the ideal test bed for the BIG HIT initiative which is very much about showcasing what we can achieve in Orkney to the rest of the world.
“The BIG HIT project is built on a partnership approach and accordingly I extend my congratulations, and the accolade, to all those partners including EMEC, Community Energy Scotland, Shapinsay Development Trust, Shapinsay Primary School and the wider community there too.”
Nick Golding, LGC’s editor, said: “Councils shortlisted for an LGC Award have proved themselves to be among the nation’s most innovative. At a time when communities nationwide are reeling from uncertainty and continuing austerity, we need to celebrate the local leaders – both council officers and councillors – without whose inspiring work our cherished local services would be even further diminished.”
There were over 500 entries across 20 awards.