Morocco sees first wind–hydrogen system installed in Africa
Oct 05, 2012 - renewableenergyfocus.com
The first African initiative to generate hydrogen from water using renewable
energy has been installed in Morocco. The completion of Africa’s first
wind–hydrogen system is a collaboration between the Pure Energy® Centre
in Scotland, Sahara Wind Inc, and Al Akhawayn University in Morocco.
The hydrogen system has been installed to enable the storage of excess wind
energy, and demonstrate that the problem of wind intermittency and excess power
generation can be resolved.
Sahara Wind coordinated the installation of a wind farm consisting of three
wind turbines at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, one Morocco’s leading
universities. The installation of the wind turbines meant that green energy
could be used around the university campus.
However, it was found that there were times when the wind turbines produced
excess energy. For example, the wind turbines would continue to generate power
at night. In this case, there would be very little load demand on the campus,
hence the wind turbine needed to be shut down.
Therefore the Pure Energy Centre was commissioned to design and install a
hydrogen energy storage system. The stored energy could then be reused at a
later time, when no wind generation was available, through different hydrogen
Pure Energy installed the hydrogen energy system, which consisted of an electrolyser
to produce hydrogen from water, a hydrogen storage tank, and a fuel cell. The
oxygen produced by the electrolyser is vented to the atmosphere, although it
would be possible to store and use it in welding, hospitals etc.
‘We feel that coupling wind and hydrogen will play an important role
in Africa’s future through a variety of applications involving the continent’s
main industries,’ says Khalid Benhamou at Sahara Wind.
‘The applications are indeed numerous: they range from powering telecommunications
networks and green mobility – to be developed in partnership with local
telecom and automotive industries – and extend to water utilities and
mine processing industries,’ continues Benhamou. ‘The latter would
use hydrogen and other electrolysis byproducts such as chlorine as feedstock.’
This cutting-edge project has been driven by Sahara Wind with financial support
from NATO under its Science for Peace and Security frameworks. This will lead
to Moroccan engineers accessing state-of-the art energy storage technologies.
‘The wind and hydrogen systems will be used for training, teaching,
and research,’ says Khalid Loudiyi from Al Akhawayn University. ‘Our
aim is to strengthen our research portfolio and to develop a number of hydrogen
applications, such as fuel cell vehicles, cooking, and even heating.’