Although solar panels can be used to power a home with clean energy, demand for power fluctuates during the day and excess power is often also produced. A new development in Chiang Mai, Thailand, reportedly solves these problems. It converts excess power to hydrogen and stores it for use later.
There are four family homes in the Phi Suea House development, as well as several other purpose-built buildings. According to project developer CNX Construction, the homes will be the first in the world to run on solar-powered hydrogen storage.
To achieve this, there will eventually be 114 kW of photovoltaic panels generating around 441 kWh of electricity a day, a partial excess of which will be stored in two 2,000-Ah lead-acid battery banks. Electrolyzers will then convert additional excess power into hydrogen gas by applying an electrical current to water. The hydrogen will then be stored until it is needed, typically at night, at which point it will be changed back into electricity via fuel cells.
CNX says the system is the most effective and ecologically-friendly way to store the energy produced. In addition, the process is entirely clean, with oxygen and water being its only by-products.
When fully up and running, the system will reportedly be able to produce hydrogen at a maximum rate of 2,000 l (440 gal) every hour and will be able to store up to 90,000 l (19,800 gal). The daily demand for electricity will be in the region of 200 kWh and the fuel cells will be able to produce 120 kWh at full storage, easily covering the estimated 80 kWh that will be required overnight.
To ensure the efficiency of the houses, they will have solar hot water panels installed, meaning that no electricity will be be required for heating water. In addition, the houses will have double glazing, thick walls, natural ventilation, efficient fans to reduce air conditioning use, plus large windows and lower-power LED lamps to minimize the energy required for lighting.
The development has been being tested with a reduced load since March. CNX tells Gizmag it will be fully operational by the end of January.
The video below explains the energy system employed by the Phi Suea House.