EMEC hydrogen storage cylinders (Credit Colin Keldie)

Surf ‘n’ Turf

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Project: Surf ‘n’ Turf
Timescale: 2015 – 2017
Funder: Local Energy Scotland and the Scottish Government’s Local Energy Challenge Fund
Funding: £1.46 m



  • Enable Orkney to make and use more electricity locally.
  • Reduce imports of fossil fuels and emissions of carbon dioxide.
  • Help Orkney communities and companies to harness locally-sourced energy.

The challenge

Orkney has an abundance of renewable energy so much so that parts of the electricity grid routinely hit full capacity. When the grid is ‘full’, some of the wind energy generators in Orkney have to limit production or stop completely. That means Orkney misses out on its full clean energy potential.

Project overview

Surf ‘n’ Turf was the first community project in Orkney to harness wind and tidal power for hydrogen production. A 500 kW electrolyser was set up at EMEC’s tidal test site on Eday. The electrolyser uses electrocity to split water (H2O) into hydrogen gas (H2) and oxygen (O2). For the Surf ‘n’ Turf project the power was supplied by tidal energy converters testing at EMEC’s Fall of Warness tidal test site, and the community owned wind turbine run by Eday Renewable Energy.

Providing hydrogen is made from renewable electricity, hydrogen is a carbon neutral, clean, non-polluting energy source (fuel).

In August 2017 the world’s first tidal-powered hydrogen was generated at EMEC’s tidal test site as part of the project.

Once the hydrogen had been generated, it was stored then transported in specially designed hydrogen storage trailers. The hydrogen was then shipped to Kirkwall where a 75 kW fuel cell housed at Kirkwall Pier could convert hydrogen back to electricity to be used as auxiliary power for the ferries when docked in the harbour (a process known as ‘cold ironing’).

Surf 'n' Turf graphic

Surf ‘n’ Turf graphic

The specialist mobile stores that Surf ’n’ Turf brought to Orkney were unique in the UK at the time. Smaller than most articulated lorries, they were designed for Eday’s roads and the inter island ferries. The trailers were crash protection tested and fitted with built in safety systems.

Through Surf ‘n’ Turf, accredited hydrogen training courses have been developed in conjunction with the local college.

Surf ’n’ Turf was a pilot project focussed on powering ferries and developing training courses for using green hydrogen however that is just the start of the opportunities Orkney could benefit from. Hydrogen could, over time, replace conventional diesel and petrol in our cars, vans and ferries.


Check out some of our other green hydrogen related projects which build on the foundations laid in Surf ‘n’ Turf: EMEC hydrogen projects

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