Plans to harness solar power to produce zero carbon hydrogen took a step forward today with the news engineering consultancy Ricardo and the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) have teamed up to support a pioneering project on the Isle of Wight.

The Rural Community Energy Fund has awarded funding to Wight Community Energy to undertake a feasibility study into how existing solar capacity on the island could be used to power hydrogen production.

Ricardo’s team will now assess the scale of potential hydrogen production and use, as well as prospective commercial models for the facility.

Meanwhile, project partners at EMEC Hydrogen, the organisation’s green hydrogen R&D arm, will assess the safety and regulatory aspects of the project, focusing on how hydrogen could be used in the maritime sector.

The hope is hydrogen produced using excess solar power could help slash emissions across the island, with the developers optimistic that potential users of hydrogen could include ferry and bus services, rail networks, commercial vehicles, or energy storage systems.

“The constraints of the island’s electricity network mean that a radical approach is needed if we are to be successful in achieving a shift to 100 per cent renewable energy, an ambition we share with the Isle of Wight Council,” said Colin Palmer spokesperson for Wight Community Energy. “We believe that developing hydrogen production while expanding our existing solar capacity could be a really promising avenue to explore and we are excited to progress these feasibility studies.”

Colin McNaught, Ricardo transport energy infrastructure manager, said the project highlighted the potentially crucial role hydrogen could play in the decarbonisation of the energy system.

“Hydrogen has the potential both to displace the use of fossil fuels with cleaner and more environmentally friendly alternative, as well as offering a means of storing and buffering energy from renewable resources such as wind and solar,” he said. “Ricardo has worked on a wide range of community energy projects and we’re proud to utilise our renewable energy expertise to support the residents of the Isle of Wight in the delivery in this innovative hydrogen project.”