Rockets from Shetland’s new SaxaVord Space Centre may be powered by locally produced green gases.

Tidal power developer Nova Innovation is heading a consortium to assess rewards offered from selling oxygen and green hydrogen made at their sites on the islands.

Cash from the Scottish government’s Emerging Energy Technologies Fund will assist Nova and partners including Ricardo Energy & the islands’ council, to put a value on local demand for the two gases.

The study has been named the GHOST Project, linking green hydrogen and oxygen supply from tidal energy.

Oxygen is the often discarded by-product when hydrogen is electrolysed from water. It is already used in aquaculture on Shetland.  According to Nova, it has potential to be used by the SaxaVord Centre, creating a 100% renewable rocket fuel.

The £20 million Saxavord space facility, pictured, was completed last year on Unst, Britain’s most northerly inhabited island. Planned launches include small satellites in the UK’s Pathfinder Launch programme.

Alongside space probes, more mundane trucking, local home heating and industrial uses are also earmarked in the GHOST study as local beneficiaries of the two gases.

The assessment will look at potential for tidal energy projects around Yell, one of Scotland’s Carbon Neutral Islands.  Nova Innovation already operates the world’s first offshore tidal array in Bluemull Sound, to the north of Yell, and is developing a 15MW project in Yell Sound, to the south.

Local Shetland enterprises including the space centre, Cooke Aquaculture and Voar Energy will assist in the study.

Nova Innovation CEO Simon Forrest said: “We are delighted to have won the GHOST Project.  Green hydrogen can transform the energy industry, deliver huge benefits for the people of Shetland with heat and transport, as well as creating the possibility of green space flight”.

SaxaVord Spaceport CEO Frank Strang added:  “We are delighted to be involved in this innovative project, which aligns perfectly with our aspiration to create Europe’s leading sustainable spaceport. We look forward to supporting Nova and the team.”


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