The great potential of hydrogen for energy storage

The wind and sun are never-ending sources of green energy, but they are also intermittent – and this pitfall is still hindering the development and expansion of renewables. Their inability to provide a constant supply of electricity and heat means energy storage solutions are essential – and hydrogen conversion could be the best solution of all. It works by linking a photovoltaic or wind turbine installation to an electrolyzer, which converts electric current and water into hydrogen during off-peak times and then releases electricity through a fuel cell during peak times. Bringing the technology to fruitionThese batteries of the future were invented as early as 1839, but research into them is now in full swing. The most recent example of this is EDF’s investment in clean technology via its Electranova fund in 2014. The investment was to German company Sunfire, which specializes in manufacturing high-temperature fuel cells and electrolyzers, and could bring about two promising forms of technology: power-to-gas and power-to-liquid.The first, power-to-gas, simply channels the existing gas grid to transport green hydrogen to homes and businesses. It is mixed with natural gas and has the advantage of reducing homes’ or businesses’ carbon footprint for generating electricity or heat. And it can also be turned into methane and used as fuel in clean cars fitted with fuel cells.The second, power-to-liquid, uses fuel cells to turn hydrogen into synthetic hydrocarbons. It produces petrol, diesel or kerosene through the combustion of water with carbon dioxide and hydrogenThe cost of this technology still has to be brought down and is prohibiting its expansion for the time being. However, it is set to play an important role in the future: according to a report published by the American consulting firm Navigant Research in 2013, the market for green energy storage will be worth more than 23 billion euros a year by 2022.To go further
Reversible electrolysis: chemical energy storage

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