Providence to trial hydrogen-lithium battery at solar farms


From pv magazine Australia

Providence Asset Group, an Australian clean energy investment firm, has revealed that it will install hydrogen-lithium battery energy storage technology developed by green hydrogen storage specialist LAVO at its 10 solar farms in the Australian state of Victoria, after finalizing AUD 33 million ($24.8 million) of project financing with Commonwealth Bank (CBA).

Providence Asset Group said the community-based solar projects – including 5 MW solar farms in Katamatite, Numurkah, Echuca West, Echuca and Stanhope – are already operational. They cumulatively produce 100% renewable energy to power approximately 20,000 households each year.

The Victorian solar farms form part of Providence’s master plan. It is also extending its footprint into regional New South Wales (NSW), where it intends to develop another 29 community solar projects, including projects at Manilla, South Tamworth, Guyra and Gunnedah, increasing its total portfolio to almost 40 ~5 MW solar farms across both states.

“Providence Asset Group recognizes the enormous opportunities that exist in our regions and we’re excited to be partnering with regional communities to deliver more affordable and sustainable energy solutions,” said Chief Investment Officer Alan Yu.

As part of the infrastructure rollout, Providence plans to deploy advanced hybrid storage technology – including hydrogen storage and traditional lithium-ion batteries – at its regional solar farm locations. Each solar farm is to be fitted with Sydney-based LAVO’s HEOS renewable hydrogen energy storage system.

Developed in partnership with the University of NSW’s Hydrogen Energy Research Centre, with the seed investment from Providence Asset Group, LAVO’s HEOS hydrogen energy storage system uses patented metal hybrid technology to store hydrogen equivalent to up to 60 kWh which will produce 40 kWh of useable electricity.

At installation, the energy storage system is connected to a solar PV array via a hybrid inverter, and to water via a purification system, to enable internal electrolyzers to convert excess energy into hydrogen, which it stores in four canisters.

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When stored energy is needed, the HEOS activates a fuel cell to deliver electricity. An integrated 5 kWh lithium battery provides a buffer that can provide instantaneous response to power shortage or outage.

Yu, who is also the CEO and executive director of LAVO, said the development of low-cost hydrogen storage is creating a new and exciting opportunity for Australian residences and businesses.

“Providence Asset Group is proud to be at the forefront of the energy transition in Australia, applying the innovative storage technology of the LAVO HEOS with our existing and planned portfolio of regional solar farms,” he said.

Providence Asset Group plans to initially trial the LAVO hydrogen energy storage system at its Stanhope solar farm in Victoria. Installation is expected in the fourth quarter of 2021 and aims to progressively deploy the technology across the rest of its portfolio during the 2023-24 period.

Providence Asset Group has already secured an offtake agreement for its solar farm portfolio, signing a multi-year power purchase agreement (PPA) earlier this year with SmartestEnergy Australia, a subsidiary of Japanese investment giant Marubeni. Under the terms of the agreement, SmartestEnergy will purchase the renewable generation output of the solar farms for an initial 30-month period, with both parties planning for a 10-year extension on the firming PPA at the end of the initial period.

Providence Asset Group said when all the solar farms are operating, the combined generation output will be around 500 GWh per annum.

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