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Last Updated: Monday, 10 October 2005, 01:16 GMT 02:16 UK
Hydrogen scheme hailed a success
Unst sea view - copyright Undiscovered Scotland
Unst hopes to use the sea to create renewable energy
The backers of Europe's first community-owned hydrogen production facility have claimed to be close to making the project viable.

The scheme, on the Shetland island of Unst, uses wind power to supply storage heaters, with the rest of the energy producing hydrogen from water.

The project has so far powered a small industrial estate and the world's first road-licenced car run on hydrogen.

Islanders believe that the system will be commonly used within 10 years.

The group behind the scheme, Pure (Promoting Unst's Renewable Energy), predicts that within a few months it will have a viable scheme which can be used elsewhere.

I would imagine that within the next five years there will be more vehicles going round the island, powered by renewable hydrogen
Sandy Macaulay

Project manager Sandy Macaulay said the system was proving effective.

"We can either use hydrogen to convert back into electricity or we can use it as a fuel," he said.

"It allows us, effectively, to bottle the wind."

Patrick Ross-Smith, of the North Isle Renewable Energy Partnership, is working on Unst, Yell and Fetlar, to lead people away from dependency on oil.

"An average of 18% to 20% of people's income here is spent on energy," he said. "Anything we can do to offset that brings massive local benefits immediately."

Different projects

Gordon Thomson, deputy chairman of Unst Community Council, said it was important for the community to be able to create its own jobs.

"We have got to try and create as many different projects as possible," he said. "Renewables are just a part of it.

"Anything we can use here, using the environment, wind, tide or sea around Unst, is going to be important for the island."

Louise Batchelor was in Unst

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