Hydrogen islands were once only a fantasy but have become more of a reality recently. Iceland is becoming one of the early adopters of the new hydrogen technology as it has three DaimlerChrysler fuel-cell buses running on hydrogen gas provided by an H2 filling station. The hydrogen filling station is in Reykjavik and was built by the Shell Corporation.
Iceland is part of the Ecological City Transport System (ECTOS), a hydrogen research project that started in 2001. The research project is designed to look at the feasibility of Iceland adopting an electrolysis-derived, renewable hydrogen economy by the year 2050.
The island of Tasmania would also like to get into the hydrogen game as it already has a big stake in renewable energy in the form of wind and hydroelectric power. A private company, Hydro Tasmania, is looking to test two Ford internal combustion engines (a 2.3-litre four-cylinder and 6.8-litre V10, both supercharged) converted to run on hydrogen gas.
The immediate challenges facing Hydro Tasmania are twofold. First, Tasmania has faced eight consecutive years of below average rainfall that has dampened their ability to create hydroelectric energy. Second, without Australian government funding, Hydro Tasmania will probably not be able to shoulder the entire financial burdens for hydrogen autos and infrastructure themselves.
Just off mainland Japan, Yakushima Island may just be the most exciting of the hydrogen islands in the making. The island is home to three hydroelectric plants, which generate more than enough capacity than the island residents can use (303GWh to spare).
According to the Telegraph.co.uk, “Hiroshi Ishii, the president of the local electricity-generating company, Yakushima Denko, has big plans for all those sparks. By using his electricity to electrolyze water and make hydrogen, Ishii reckons he can heat the people’s homes, replace the island’s 9,500 autos with hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles such as Honda’s FCX and power the 1,200 tourist buses, the sizeable fishing fleet and even the rockets that fly into space from the nearby Tanegashima Island.”
Of course, these ambitions will be a few years in the making before they play out. But, with an island that already has the natural resources needed to generate electricity and create hydrogen and with leadership excited about implementing hydrogen solutions, the future may be closer than we think.