EcoIsland is an initiative to make the UK’s Isle of Wight a demonstrator of future energy systems and smart grid technology; it is the largest single sustainability project in the UK. To date the project has delivered a £25 million project to install solar PV panels on 3,500 social homes and more than 500 air-source heat pumps, as well as a ‘Greenback’ consumer reward card in collaboration with 65 local companies with good sustainability practices that helps residents save up to £400 a year.
On 15th November the EcoIsland Partnership Community Interest Company (CIC) will launch as a Global Innovation Centre for smart grid technology. Partnering with IBM and Toshiba the CIC plans to integrate the island’s future wind, tidal, geothermal and solar power, which may reduce fuel bills on the island by up to 50%.
ITM Power will provide the hydrogen storage for the trials and CIC chief executive David Green explained to Fuel Cell Today how fuel cells and hydrogen will tie into the project. A demonstration ‘smart house’ will have a HFill home hydrogen vehicle refueller; there will also be up to four larger-scale 100 kg hydrogen generators for commercial and domestic trials with FCEV and HICE vehicles provided by Honda, Vauxhall and Toyota. ITM will also be demonstrating its HBox Solar, which offers direct off-grid hydrogen generation from solar PV. Hydrogen storage is increasingly becoming recognised as a viable way to balance the intermittancy of variable renewables; for an island that is looking to deploy large-scale wind and tidal energy solutions hydrogen storage is a smart move.