Wind Hydrogen provides alternative

NEW Australian Stock Exchange listing Wind Hydrogen has raised $12 million to pursue its non-polluting energy projects in the United Kingdom, Australia and to a lesser degree New Zealand.
Wind Hydrogen provides alternative
Wind Hydrogen provides alternative
Wind Hydrogen provides alternative
Wind Hydrogen provides alternative
Wind Hydrogen provides alternative

WH debuted on Monday at 15c, a 25% discount to its 20c issue price, before recovering slightly to close at 15.5c. The stock reached an intra-day high of 17c.

WH managing director Richard Pritchard described the public’s response to the capital raising as “most encouraging”.

“This proves there is excellent support for new and innovative technology, which can alleviate climate change if successfully developed,” he said.

At current growth rates in energy demand and production, non-fossil fuels including wind and hydrogen will have their work cut out to maintain their market share at about 15% of all energy provided. It will largely be up to the fossil fuel industries to continue to improve production technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

That being the case it may be a little strong to say wind hydrogen technology could alleviate climate change, but it may certainly assist the cause and, with the backing of governments and the community, it is set to grow into a significant industry.

The wind hydrogen process uses a wind farm to generate electricity and a storage facility capable of capturing and holding hydrogen for future use. Of note is that WH has successfully patented this process. The company’s UK-based consultant Peter McLellan described the concept of wind hydrogen in simple terms for

“The wind blows and we capture the energy in the wind and convert it to electricity through a wind turbine which is connected to the electricity distribution system,” he said.

“When demand for the electricity is low, say, in the middle of the night, excess electricity is used to drive an electrolysis process splitting water into its constituent parts of hydrogen and oxygen. The oxygen is vented to atmosphere but the hydrogen is stored under pressure and becomes 'the energy carrier'. When demand dictates, the hydrogen is burned off in an internal combustion engine which converts the energy back into electricity.

“The objective is to create the hydrogen gas using electrical power to drive the electrolysis process when electricity prices are low, store it and then burn it off to generate electricity at peak times when the electricity price is higher. There are two by-products - oxygen and heat; in certain circumstances the waste heat could be captured and used in an office or district heating scheme.”

WH has two major wind projects – the in the 40 Megawatt Woolsthorpe project in Victoria and the 48MW Wings Law project in Scotland. They are complemented by two major hydrogen projects – the 5MW Lochshore project in Scotland and the Teesside project in northern England.

The immediate priority is the Ladymoor Renewable Energy project, which is made up of the Wings Law wind farm and the Lochshore hydrogen project. The project has been through an extensive public consultation process that ran from January 2006 to February 2007, after which the company felt it had grasped the key concerns of all stakeholder groups critical to the progression of the project.

“There are a number of key issues which WH is currently addressing in its design and final submission. These issues concern the number of turbines, their location, and mitigation of ecological and environmental impacts,” according to the WH website.

“The proposal may be enhanced economically by the joint application of a hydrogen research and development site to be submitted to the same local authority. The conceptual design for this joint proposal won the Institute of Electrical Engineers inaugural 'New Spirit Challenge' for its leading role in attempting to alleviate one of the leading issues regarding wind power – intermittency.”

WH submitted its project proposal in July with a response from the local government expected back by the end of this month. The company is also anxiously awaiting feedback on an application presented to the UK Government Research and Development body in relation to the Lochshore hydrogen project, which is expected in October, and could contribute up to a significant amount to the cause if the body deems it worthy. Lochshore has the ability to expand to a 25MW facility if required.

The expected capital expenditure on the Ladymoor is about ₤80 million, made up of ₤60 million for the wind farm and ₤20 million for the hydrogen facility. Ongoing costs of running such facilities had not been released. Production is set to begin in late 2009 subject to planning approvals.

The remainder of this year is going to hectic for the WH away from Ladymoor as well. The outcome of a panel hearing on the Woolsthorpe project is due out this month, while the company also plans to continue discussions with New Zealand group Wind Farm Developments about the potential for joint venture wind hydrogen projects in Australia and New Zealand. Meanwhile, WH will speak with landowners in New South Wales about the 'development rights' for potential wind farm sites.

Back in the UK, WH plans to push on with several early stage wind farm projects and forge ahead with the feasibility study for the Teesside project with joint venture partner PX. A funding application for Teesside is likely to be submitted in November. WH expects to having planning submissions prepared for a further 50-70MW of “high value” wind farm projects in the UK.

“The company is now in a position to be exposed to a world wide wind energy market, which is estimated to be worth $200 billion between now and 2011”, Pritchard said.

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