In June 2022, PlusZero hit the headlines with their plans to power Scotland’s HebCelt Festival at Stornoway, July 13th-16th, using Green Hydrogen that’s been produced locally on the Scottish Western Isles. Vision: 2025 asked PlusZero’s Director of Story, Mark Irving, to tell us more about the growing market for their clean, portable power offer, the challenges and benefits of using Green Hydrogen and how it works in practice at outdoor events.
In 2021, PlusZero ran series of trials for their Green Hydrogen-fuelled generators to power high-profile events as diverse as COP26, the Edinburgh Festival and the international Extreme E sports car rally in Dorset. Irving updates us on the learning from these trial events, what makes Green Hydrogen ‘Green,’ the results of their research into public perceptions, and why they are committed to educating clients and potentially sceptical partners about the circularity and efficacy of hydrogen as a combustion fuel:
“Hydrogen’s potential as a renewable energy source across diverse energy applications is creating huge interest worldwide. Green Hydrogen is forecast to meet up to 22% of total global energy demand by 2050 with an annual sales value of up to $600 billion* (International Renewable Energy Agency IRENA, Jan 2022).
PlusZero is the UK’s market leader in the production, distribution & operation of Green Hydrogen across early adopter markets such as outdoor events, film & TV, construction, that seek portable clean power solutions. It is headquartered in Edinburgh with its first production base in the Western Isles. We started in April 2021, and we’ve moved at lightning speed to establish ourselves in the fast-moving hydrogen sector. Our mission is to bring carbon-free portable power wherever it’s needed.
Why do we need carbon-free power? Well, $14bn is spent annually on diesel generators worldwide, in sectors as diverse as outdoor events, film location powering, construction, back-up power – in fact, anywhere where portable (off-grid) power is needed. These diesel generators burn 95bn litres of diesel at a cost of $126bn and emit 250m tonnes CO2e per annum.
In order to meet global net-zero targets we need a carbon-free alternative. To achieve this, PlusZero provides a fully integrated, end-to-end Green Hydrogen solution: Production – Distribution – Operation.
PlusZero Energy is our green hydrogen production & distribution business that’s already producing green hydrogen at our Western Isles site. Using electricity produced by locally sourced wind power, we convert water into Green Hydrogen and Oxygen through a process called electrolysis. It’s ‘Green’ because the wind power is fully renewable: one of Scotland’s great natural gifts is the ready availability of wind, with the Western Isles offering rapid scalability (between 1GW to 2GW) to become one of the biggest production centres for Green Hydrogen in Europe.
PlusZero Power is our clean power business, bringing a modular range of hydrogen-fuelled generators to the market that replace polluting diesel versions (which are often unregulated). The UK Marketalone forportable diesel generatorsis worth £0.5 Billion alone. Think of the CO2 and other emissions we could prevent (and the air quality we’d improve) if even a large fraction of these were converted to work on Green Hydrogen!
Our research has discovered that most crews (whether they’re making the next Netflix series, creating a major outdoor event or building a new hospital) using portable power – most likely diesel generators – like to work with what they know best: an internal combustion engine or ICE. That’s why our approach is to produce generators using hydrogen-fuelled combustion engines that work in almost the same way as diesel ones, but without the CO2 and NOX. Easy to learn, easy to use.
There’s significant proven demand in the UK, EU and GCC (Gulf) for the clean portable power offer that Green Hydrogen provides. The main limiting factor to scaling up the business to enable us to respond fully to our customer pipeline demand is the current shortage of Green Hydrogen. That’s why we’re also seeking investment to scale up our PlusZero Energy business to 50MW (first phase).
A big issue is public recognition: while investors are thronging around hydrogen, people generally don’t know much about it. Therefore, we commissioned a report into public perceptions of hydrogen in Scotland, with some surprising results (younger people are the least knowledgeable about it, even though they are more likely to be interested in environmental issues). You can read the results here.
While lots of businesses in the renewables space talk about hydrogen, very few of them have delivered. We spent 2021 undertaking a series of demonstrator trials of our Green Hydrogen-fuelled generators to power high-profile events as diverse as COP26, the Edinburgh Festival, the international Extreme E sports car rally in Dorset, and a major Scottish Government hosted event at Edinburgh Castle. All were world firsts in terms of using Green Hydrogen. That’s why our brand strapline is we’re Making Hydrogen Happen.
We learned a lot from doing these events: understanding the challenges of pioneering clean portable power – from getting generators ready to transporting them and the Green Hydrogen to site, to educating clients and potentially sceptical partners about the beautiful circularity and sheer efficacy of hydrogen as a combustion fuel: formed from water, its waste product is water.
And now we’re powering the wonderful 2022 HebCelt Festival at Stornoway July 13th-16th. Its right on our doorstep, so we’re really thrilled to be bringing clean portable power to our neighbours – Green Hydrogen power that’s been produced on the Western Isles. It’s an important example of how clean energy, when produced with the consent of local community organisations, can return its social and environmental benefits directly to local people. It’s a community-based solution with a global footprint. What we’re doing here can be replicated across the world, and that’s why our ambitions are truly international. Read a full case study here.
What about the carbon? Let’s not forget the core mission. Here’s one example. Based on figures provided for diesel use at the last HebCelt Festival in 2019, the use of our green hydrogen-fuelled generators will save over 1000 litres of diesel use and over 3 tonnes of CO2 emissions. This is approximately the equivalent of 27 car journeys from Edinburgh to Stornoway and back, based on average mpg figures. Imagine this replicated for every outdoor event in the UK. And then at every construction site, film location – anywhere using portable power.
For more information, see www.pluszero.energy and join us in making hydrogen happen.”
This guest blog originally appeared in our June 2022 Vision: 2025 newsletter. Sign up to receive monthly event sustainability news, case studies and guest blogs direct to your inbox.