From Granite City to a global hub for hydrogen

November 6, 2019
From Granite City to a global hub for hydrogen

With the largest fleet of hydrogen buses in Europe and the UK’s first integrated hydrogen generation and bus refuelling station, Aberdeen is at the forefront of several exciting hydrogen projects.

As part of a drive to showcase these projects, to network and to further explore hydrogen opportunities in the North East, the city welcomed around 700 delegates to the inaugural Aberdeen Hydrogen Festival.  The festival attracted international delegations across Europe and the United States. It was a great success, with all participants speaking very highly of Aberdeen and its status as a hydrogen leader.

To mark the start of the festival, the world’s first hydrogen-powered vessel paid a visit to Aberdeen Harbour. The Energy Observer is a converted race boat and the first of its type in the world to convert seawater onboard for use as hydrogen fuel. The vessel is set to visit a further 50 countries on its mission to promote sustainable transport and the reduction of carbon emissions.

Fuelling the hydrogen revolution through collaboration

The Hydrogen Festival’s programme of events began with a one-day conference on October 1. The event was co-hosted by Aberdeen City Council, in conjunction with Pale Blue Dot Energy and ERM and with additional support from Opportunity North East, Scottish Enterprise and the Oil and Gas Technology Centre.

At the conference, Equinor shared its experience of H21, a hydrogen gas project Northern England where as much as twenty percent of hydrogen will be mixed with domestic gas in standard gas boilers to decarbonise heating. In another session, Andrew Win, programmes and project manager at Aberdeen City Council discussed the council’s Hydrogen Valley concept. Presentations were also made by the department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Scottish Enterprise, The Oil & Gas Authority, The Crown Estate and Scottish Gas Networks.

Demonstrating the importance of Aberdeen to the burgeoning Scottish hydrogen landscape, the Scottish Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association (SHFCA) also brought its conference to festival. The conference explored the role of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies in delivering key ambitions for a low carbon future. Kiwa’s Martin Crowther spoke about integrating different renewable types with hydrogen and Lorna Archer from Scottish Gas Networks spoke about heating Scotland with renewable energy. Team PrototAU, the University of Aberdeen Shell Eco-marathon team, showcased its hydrogen vehicle which was designed and built by students.

Global learnings

In association with the European Marine Energy Centre, the Institute of Gas Innovation and Technology at Stony Brook University and SHFCA, the TAP2G Trans-Atlantic Power to Gas Workshop was held across two days. The seminar brought together industry experts from Europe and the USA to identify common areas of interest as well as share opportunities for transatlantic collaboration.

Liquid ammonia was noted to be the upcoming energy vector of choice for large ship propulsion and grid scale energy storage. In another session, Siemen’s director of strategy and government highlighted that all the electric race cars at this year’s Goodwood Festival were recharged from a hydrogen fuel cell arrangement.

One of the conclusions from the seminar was that in order to decarbonise Europe in alignment with the Paris Accord timescale, 30GW of power-to-gas would be required.  This is the equivalent of nine Hinkley C atomic power stations generating useable hydrogen as the fuel of the future.

The Hydrogen Festival demonstrated the market readiness of hydrogen as well as giving Aberdeen an opportunity to strengthen its position as a pioneering city for hydrogen development and technology. There was a definite cross-sectoral interest in hydrogen with uses being cited for the oil and gas industry, the wave industry, transport, domestic heating and also new materials development.

As Councillor Philip Bell, my fellow AREG board member and the Council’s hydrogen spokesperson said: “The Hydrogen Festival was an inspiring week, as we welcomed delegates from near and far. This region has a track record as an energy industry innovator and the festival provided a platform for Aberdeen to lead from the front as hydrogen opens up new possibilities.”

With so many opportunities locally, I forward to engaging with our members to discuss how AREG can help with harnessing hydrogen technology to realise and secure a low carbon future.

Jean Morrison, Chair of Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group (AREG)


Image: Aberdeen hydrogen vehicles. Credit: Aberdeen City Council.

Get in touch

AREG is the original energy transition organisation, working on behalf of members to empower the energy supply chain and champion its expertise. Please get in touch if you have any questions or would like to find out more about membership.

AREG has played an important role in the growth of Scotland’s renewable energy sector, engaging the supply chain and developing the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre. However, we are only at the very beginning of the transition that AREG was established to both lead and support so there are still opportunities for companies to get into the constantly evolving renewables supply chain. We look forward to continuing our work together as renewables builds on its place as Scotland’s main source of power, and as we seek to deliver real change in the crucial areas of heat and transport.

Scottish Renewables

Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce has worked closely with AREG since its formation. The recent progress in the developments of offshore wind projects by Equinor and Vattenfall are as a result of the work of the group over many years. The north-east is known as the oil and gas capital of Europe. At the Chamber, we believe the region must evolve its position to being recognised as the energy capital. Whilst hydrocarbons will continue to be essential in driving our economy for years to come, the generation of renewable resources will play an increasingly important role in providing cost-effective power, innovative development and economic growth.

Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce

The enthusiasm and dedication of the early group that would become AREG was fundamental in us choosing to launch All-Energy in Aberdeen. The first tiny show was held in 2001, and AREG’s Chairman at the time, Jeremy Cresswell, played such an active role that I often describe him in terms such as All-Energy’s ‘midwife’. All-Energy is now the UK’s largest renewable and low carbon energy exhibition and conference in terms of number of attendees, space booked, and number of exhibiting companies. As AREG became firmly established, their presence and support for the event grew spectacularly over the years. We thank them most sincerely for their invaluable input.


Vattenfall has forged a strong working relationship with AREG through the development of the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre. AREG has worked tirelessly on behalf of the North East and it can take enormous credit for the growth of sustainable energy in the region and the path it has cleared for the region to capture further investment.


Aberdeen City and Shire is emerging as a key location for renewables by successfully transferring its world-class oil and gas expertise into the sector and AREG has done much to advance this through a broad range of initiatives. It has acted as a catalyst in driving further investment in the local economy by engaging with companies, Government, public bodies and existing projects and we have been pleased to support their efforts. Scottish Enterprise will continue to engage with AREG as we increase Scotland’s use of renewable energy.

Scottish Enterprise