A pioneering green energy project that will see quieter, less polluting bin lorries on Scottish streets and provide eco-friendly power to local businesses has become operational.

Levenmouth Community Energy Project (LCEP), based at Methill docks in Fife, is one of the first of its type in the world.

It utilises renewable electricity produced locally by a wind turbine and solar panels to create hydrogen from water.

Some of the hydrogen is then used to run a fleet of 17 low-emission refuse trucks and vans, while the rest is stored in fuel cells and can be called upon to generate low-carbon electricity when output from the renewables devices is poor.

A ‘smart’ microgrid controls how much hydrogen gets stored and how much is converted into power to supply businesses.

As well as commissioning two specially adapted dual-fuel bin lorries, the scheme aims to help local firms boost their environmental credentials by offering a range of hydrogen-powered vehicles for hire.

LCEP is a partnership between locally based not-for-profit firm Bright Green Hydrogen, Fife Council and Japanese technology giant Toshiba.

The scheme has received more than £4 million in support from the Scottish Government’s Local Energy Challenge Fund, plus funding from Transport Scotland to install an additional hydrogen storage and refuelling station at the council’s Bankhead vehicle depot in Glenrothes.

The initiative has now reached a major milestone as the hi-tech control system is switched on.

It means the site is now capable of operating automatically to balance hydrogen storage against renewable generation, and both the Methil and Bankhead refuelling stations are now up and running and capable of servicing vehicles.

“It’s great news that this key stage in the project is now complete,” said George Archibald, chief executive of Bright Green Hydrogen.

“The Levenmouth project demonstrates how we can use locally produced hydrogen to reduce both carbon dioxide and toxic emissions.

“This is a vital part of meeting Scotland’s climate change targets, and hugely important to protecting public health.”

Councillor Ken Caldwell, convener of Fife Council’s Levenmouth Area Committee, said: “This is great news for Levenmouth.

“This innovative project will bring many benefits to the area.

“It’s hoped it will increase economic growth and reduce fuel poverty in the area.”

Stephen Stead, sales and business development director, at Toshiba, added: “The Levenmouth Community Energy Project has provided the perfect location to engage our technology with innovative green hydrogen applications.

“The project shows hydrogen produced from renewables has a pivotal role in local energy systems and can maximise the benefits from renewable energy for businesses and communities.”

Two thirds of any profits generated from the scheme will go to a fund set up to tackle local fuel poverty.