SEAFUEL - Powering Sustainable Transport in the Canary Islands
Imagine a world in which everything we consume leaves little to no footprint on the environment around us. Once a fanciful dream, we are now closer to achieving this green utopia thanks to SEAFUEL a sustainable transport project that utilizes seawater and sunlight to power hydrogen cars in Tenerife and beyond. This innovative, high tech project will revolutionise the islands and the Canary Green team were lucky to get a guided tour of the SEAFUEL facilities here in Tenerife.
Hydrogen Cars in Tenerife Provide Clean Transportation
The vast, dusty desert plains of Tenerife South were once renowned for their luxury all inclusive hotels and extravagant nightlife. But, in recent years, the island has earnt its green credentials thanks to the hard work of institutions like ITER who have partnered with SEAFUEL to develop a fleet of hydrogen powered cars available for test drive in February 2021 in addition to creating low carbon, sustainable transport systems powered by 100% renewable energy. SEAFUEL, led by the National University of Ireland Galway, is co-funded by the Interreg Atlantic Area programme and has partners from Spain, Portugal, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
- Seawater is collected in the SEAFUEL plant and purified using solar and wind energy
- Electrolysis takes place using solar energy, generating oxygen and hydrogen from water
- The hydrogen gets compressed, creating fuel for your car.
What is SEAFUEL? Sustainable Development in Tenerife
Using natural sources of energy such as solar and wind energy, SEAFUEL converts seawater into green hydrogen which is then used to power sustainable transport. By adopting seawater as their fuel of choice, it highlights the innovation of SEAFUEL, setting them apart amongst competitors as advocates for clean, green energy.
Another amazing detail to highlight is the fact that SEAFUEL generates zero emissions on the production of the hydrogen, whereas most hydrogen produced in Europe comes from fossil fuels. Never before has it been possible to power a car using nothing other than seawater, but thanks to this incredible science and engineering, the Canary Islands now paves the way for a green, sustainable future.
Green Hydrogen Power in Tenerife for Sustainable Transport
SEAFUEL has chosen the island of Tenerife as its project base because isolated areas such as islands suffer the most from high energy costs and dependency on mainland infrastructure, making energy consumption unsustainable in the long run. Islands often have limited fossil fuel resources but are rich in renewable energy opportunities creating the perfect environment for a self sustainable island.
The aims of the renewable energy project are:
The Canary Green team loved spending time at this magical, sustainable and inspiring place. It is a real hidden gem that made us all feel the power of nature, how grounding it is and the importance of protecting our environment. While there were endless aspects of the experience that we loved, our highlights include:
- Develop one hydrogen fuelling station at ITER which will be used as a pilot plant.
- Use 5 modified vehicles (electric to hydrogen) and a Hyundai Nexo to test the use of seawater hydrogen
- SEAFUEL also aims to produce a series of academic publications highlighting the research carried out about water electrolysers in addition to providing energy roadmaps for local authorities to promote the use of hydrogen. A business tool kit and business model also form part of the strong body of documentation supporting this project.
- Share the research with other Atlantic areas to boost the use of green hydrogen for transport solutions across the world.
How Does Seawater Become Hydrogen?
Transportation is responsible for more than half of the energy (fossil fuel) consumption in Tenerife which is why now more than ever we need to turn our focus to renewable alternatives. Hydrogen not only provides us with a zero carbon emission fuel, it also allows excess renewable energy to be stored and used to fuel other transport sectors such as busses and ferries. Sustainable transport will transform the island, which is currently dependent on cars as the primary way to move around.
What Is The Difference Between Hydrogen and Electric Cars?
The main difference is that hydrogen cars use the hydrogen stored to power the car. Electric cars use the battery to power the vehicle which means that needs to be much bigger. Electric batteries use significant amounts of metals which are difficult to obtain. Whereas in an hydrogen car, the compressed hydrogen mixes with oxygen naturally to provide the initial power needed during start up. However they also need a battery but the battery of hydrogen cars is much smaller than electric cars. For example Kona EV (electric car) has a battery of 64 kWh, however Nexo (hydrogen car) has a battery of only 1,56 kWh. This battery stores the energy to supply the vehicle in case that the engine needs big power peaks, for example during strong accelerations. It is like a buffer of energy.
How do Hydrogen Cars Benefit Sustainable Tourism in Tenerife?
There are many ways in which SEAFUEL’s hydrogen cars will benefit sustainable tourism in the Canary Islands. The main benefits are:
- Green hydrogen is 100% renewable and doesn’t pollute – guilt free sightseeing
- It is quicker to charge a hydrogen car than an electric car. It takes only 5 mins to fill the tank, the same as a petrol car.
- It costs only 2€ to drive 100km
- By driving the SEAFUEL zero emission cars you are raising awareness for renewable energies in the Canary Islands.
So, when you plan your visit to the island next year, please visit ITER in the south of Tenerife to test drive a seawater fuelled car.
Sustainable Integration of renewable fuels in local transportation
Thank you to everyone involved in this Canary Green project where our aim is to help promoting local sustainable individuals, projects and companies in the Canary Islands.
- SEAFUEL Sustainable Integration of renewable fuels in local transportation
- Elsa López Suarez from Tenerife Energy Agency and Irene García Fernández from ITER explaining the project to us
- John Beckley; Founder of Canary Green non profit
- Canary Green non profit
- Project Coordinator; Andrea Endres
- PR; Kim De Coster
- Photographer & Social Media; Monika Marija Messinga
- Videographer; Marcin Bilski and Eliana Pelaggi
- Copywriter; Grace Molan
- In cooperation with Canary PR, Tenerife Magazine