Valentia aims to lead way in hydrogen energy use

Orkney Islands off the coast of Scotland gets its clean energy from sources like tidal and wave energy. Picture: Alamy

A Co Kerry island is aiming to produce clean energy which could be used to power public lighting and propel its ferry service, among other uses.

Valentia Island is planning to transform its energy needs through a potential hydrogen-based product.

The project which is community-led is based on a successful venture which has been continuing and developing on Scotland’s Orkney Islands since 2016.

Details of the proposed energy model will be outlined tomorrow in The Royal Hotel Valentia Function Room on the island in south Kerry.

The ultimate goal is to power the island, said Colum O’Connell, chairman of the Valentia Energy Group.

He said islanders would be able to pull up at hydrogen refuelling stations just as Orkney islanders currently do. Mr O’Connell said in the not-too-distant future Valentia could eventually be a powerhouse for storing and selling on the clean energy.

It will be community- engaged, community-owned and community driven rather than development- led,” he said.

Meanwhile, Valentia Island Energy Company has been formed with the objective of addressing the island’s energy needs in a manner that is more efficient in an economic and climatic context.

Mr O’Connell said two years down the road in its research, Valentia is liaising directly with the community effort in Orkney.

He said hydrogen is the up and coming ‘transitional’ energy technology as the world moves from carbon and fossil fuels. In global terms, hydrogen is “gaining a lot of momentum”.

Harvested from water, using renewable energy methods, it can be stored as a gas in cylinders.

The theme of tomorrow’s event in Knightstown is ‘How Valentia can help enable Irish Communities to make the Energy Transition — Feasibility Study into the local production and consumption of Hydrogen in a sustainable way on Valentia Island’.

With the aim of establishing a community energy cooperative, environmentalist Duncan Stewart will introduce a number of academics from DCU and NUI Galway, energy experts and commercial leaders in the sector.

Energy Coops Ireland is also working in collaboration with Valentia on developing the hydrogen project. It will assist in completing a feasibility study which will take into account analysis from DCU and NUIG as well as existing models operating in Orkney.

Chief executive of Energy Coops Ireland, Cormac Walsh described the venture as exciting.

“We are thrilled to be working with the team in Valentia. The production of hydrogen from renewable energy has the potential to enable Valentia to get to their goal of energy independence and a reduced carbon community.”

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