Donald MacRae: Recent advances in technology change considerably the outlook for self-sufficiency in green energy. First, is the emergence of solid-state ammonia synthesis to produce ammonia directly from air, water and renewable energy that is rapidly decreasing in cost. The second is a recent breakthrough to break out hydrogen from ammonia for low cost. Details of these technologies are provided in our Hydrogen Scotland paper at www.hialba.org. While ammonia produced and transported under such conditions could be economically viable our proposal is not to transport it (as Australia is gearing up to do on a massive scale to Japan and South Korea) but to use it as a battery. By this we mean producing and storing ammonia on disused oil and gas rigs servicing offshore wind farms for conversion to hydrogen then using fuel cells to provide electricity during periods of low winds. Further, as we envisage a vast array of floating wind farms (the first now operating in Scotland) each serviced by a disused rig it should be possible to optimise the process of harnessing wind energy across the array to ensure a stable supply to meet a great deal of the needs of what we refer to as a European Supergrid. Also proposed is the prospect for the use of graphene as a superconductor to reduce to near zero electricity transmission losses throughout the grid. It is our view that the proposed outlays of several hundred billion dollars in prolonging the life of North Sea oil and gas would yield a much lesser return on investment than our proposal, even by ignoring the vastly greater range of skilled, safer jobs that would be created and avoidance of the ever more critical damage costs of continuing to use carbon-based fuels.
Herald 2nd April 2019 read more »