The SEAFUEL project, aimed at developing the use of hydrogen as a renewable energy source, has been launched by NUI Galway. It will see a fleet of cars powered by the fuel take to the roads in the Aran Islands, Madeira in Portugal and the Canary Islands.
The €3.5 million three year project aims to promote and support the shift towards a low-carbon economy by showing how it is feasible to power local transport networks using the hydrogen.
In particular the team wants to demonstrate the viability of producing, distributing and using the gas generated by renewable energy and sea water in Atlantic areas.
The €3.5m project led by NUI Galway will also see construction of a hydrogen plant on the Canary Islands, where up to 25kg of hydrogen gas a day will be produced, sufficient to power up to 10 commercially-available cars with a maximum range of 600km. The hydrogen will be generated using seawater and solar panels, and if successful, similar plants could be installed in offshore and isolated communities, including the Aran Islands.
The project is also being piloted in Madeira in Portugal.
The project aims to drastically reduce greenhouse emissions, particle matter (PM) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), in line with the Clean Air Programme for Europe 2008/50/EC, and provide a pathway for isolated regions to become energetically independent, leading to future installations in other Atlantic regions. An alternative fuels model for islands will be developed to fulfil the requirements that each of the partner regions propose for their ‘Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS3), aimed at low carbon economy and efficient use of marine resources.
Dr Pau Farràs from the School of Chemistry at NUI Galway, sais the project is aimed at establishing a business model to help offshore communities reduce energy imports.
“The plan for the project is to study if this model is a viable business model to export to other places within the islands and other regions,” he said.
“The Aran Islands already has electric vehicles, and we are looking at other possibilities including heat, but also for boats and ferries. We are focused on the islands because they are so dependent on imports.
“This is a carbon-free fuel which will be good for the island and will break the dependency.”