Australian-led venture takes next step towards residential solar hydrogen storage system | RenewEconomy

Australian-led venture takes next step towards residential solar hydrogen storage system

The commercialisation of an Australian-invented residential hydrogen storage system to be accelerated with help of engineering firm GHD.

A hydrogen fuel cell.

An Australian-led venture to develop one of the world’s first residential solar-based hydrogen energy storage systems is set to get a boost towards its commercialisation through an engineering support deal struck with GHD.

Global engineering giant GHD will partner with researchers from the University of New South Wales, and investment backers Providence Asset Group, to accelerate the development of the LAVO Hydrogen Storage Technology invented at the university.

“The timing is right for hydrogen as the cost of renewables has fallen quicker than predicted and there is unprecedented political support for this emerging industry,” CEO of Providence Asset Group Henry Sun said.

The LAVO system, named for one of the early pioneers of chemistry, French scientist Antoine Lavoisier, who is credited for the discovery and naming of hydrogen in 1783, is being developed as a solution for using hydrogen for residential energy storage, capturing surplus energy produced by rooftop solar systems and allowing it to be used as needed.

The LAVO system has the potential to store the equivalent of 60kWh of surplus energy, representing a much larger amount of energy storage than is currently available in most residential battery storage systems and would be enough to power the average household for around three days.

Hydrogen has emerged as a high potential alternative for zero-emissions energy storage, with a large range of potential uses, including within the electricity system, as well as for transport and industrial fuels.

GHD will be involved in the design of the LAVO system that will patented metal hydride technology to safely store the hydrogen in a residential context.

The LAVO system will include both a small-scale electrolyser system, to produce zero-emissions hydrogen when powered by excess power from a rooftop solar system, as well as a fuel-cell device to use the hydrogen to produce electricity on demand.

The LAVO system will only require a small supply of water, which it will use in the electrolysis process, splitting the water into its hydrogen and oxygen components.

“This system is a really interesting step forward in the energy transition and we’re proud to be working with such dedicated innovators in the field,” GHD’s global future energy business leader Dr Tej Gidda said.

“Now more than ever, we have an incredible opportunity to partner with clients, researchers and product developers to develop technologies that bring cleaner energy choices to residential consumers.”

The household hydrogen storage system is being developed through a partnership between investment firm Providence Asset Group and the University of NSW, which combined to form the dedicated Hydrogen Energy Research Centre.

Providence Asset Group has made a $5 million contribution towards the establishment of the Hydrogen Energy Research Centre at the UNSW Sydney campus.

“The problem in Australia is we lack the deep expertise needed in consulting firms and industry to advise on the best hydrogen technologies to pursue – not only in terms of quality and product life, but also accurate financial modelling to secure capital investment. HERC’s ecosystem of expertise will overcome these barriers to commercialisation and ensure greater market uptake of hydrogen products,” UNSW’s professor Kondo-Francois Aguey-Zinsou, who will lead the centre, said at its launch in June.

With the additional engineering expertise from GHD,  the group will progress the design and development of the LAVO hydrogen storage system, with the partnership aiming to commence production of the system in 2021.

“Building on our previous renewable energy projects with Providence Asset Group, LAVO is the next step in aggressively transforming the future of energy for our communities. We are proud to bring GHD’s Australian and global hydrogen leadership together with our integrated future energy solution to this project,” GHD’s project director Greg Bowyer said.

“Our future energy work now spans the full spectrum of green hydrogen solutions – from industrial magnitude plants to household-scale applications like LAVO.”

A larger-scale equivalent of the hydrogen storage technology also developed through the UNSW-Providence Asset Group partnership, known as H2Store, will be trialled in the regional New South Wales township of Manilla.

As announced in March, Manilla will become host to a 2MW/17MWh hydrogen storage system, that will work along side a 4.5MW solar farm and a 4.5MW/4.5MWh battery storage system.

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