With Texan power outages hitting the headlines this week, it’s worth looking to a startup that’s developed the world’s first renewable, hydrogen-powered energy storage system. At full charge, it can furnish a house with electricity for about three days.
If you’ve ever said to a friend that you wanted to switch to solar panels, you may have gotten the snarky reply along the lines of, “What happens when it’s cloudy?”
As frustrating as it is to hear, for some time it’s been a legitimate drawback to rooftop PV panels. But just as electric car batteries have improved through the 2010s, the options for storing solar power for nighttime or during cloudy periods have become rapidly more available.
For homes in New South Wales Australia, LAVO is offering a green battery storage system to retain the sun for darker days, using a clever system of electrolysis to generate energy from stored hydrogen. The special material in which the hydrogen is stored is leagues safer than conventional technologies. It has a product life of around 30 years, and it can be recycled.
Innovation at its finest
Hooked up to the water main and any commercially available rooftop PV solar array, the solar energy is used to power an electrolyzer to convert water into hydrogen and oxygen, with the former going into the patented hydride storage material, and the latter simply returning into the air.
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A fuel cell converts stored hydrogen back into electricity when the battery is switched on, and the fact that the hydrogen is stored in a solid-state, rather than as a liquid or gas, removes the normally considerable fire hazard from the material.
The size of a home refrigerator and costing around $29,500, the LAVO hydrogen battery can store 3x more power than comparable home lithium battery systems.
Within the battery is a bank of detachable units that can also be used to power other hydrogen-electric machines from LAVO—including a bicycle and a barbecue.
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Company spokespeople say an eco-lodge has already pre-ordered one, while Gowings Bros, an Australian investment company and clothing business, announced in January it had signed-on as an investor to LAVO, committing to buy 200 batteries for its properties across the country. We’ll be sure to let you know when the technology comes to Texas and beyond.
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