Today I attended a presentation on a very concrete topic: self-efficiency with photovoltaic and hydrogen. Michael Schubert works for Fronius International GmbH, which proposes the model of a self-sufficient house based in Central Europe. One major problem of solar energy is the storage. Here, Fronius International proposes a storage system based on hydrogen gas:
The roof top of the house is covered with photovoltaic panels which produce electricity. This electricity is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen gas is stored at a high pressure, and converted back to electricity when required.
If the heat waste is used for heating, the process efficiency is said to be >80%! According to Michael, the technology is mature, even though he speaks of an early market.
After hearing so many abstract recommendations in the different sessions of the conference, a concrete example of a sustainable use of energy is refreshing. However, this is just another voice in the large debate about the extent of the potential of solar energy. So many questions remain in my mind, also remembering the usual attacks done by the solar skepticals: what is amount of resource and energy required to build the solar panels? What about the price? I also wonder: why is the solar energy still not harvested at a large scale? Are the lobbies of traditional energy systems playing a role?
Thumbnail source: Frontius