Australian hydrogen battery technology to be tested in UK


From pv magazine Australia

Sydney-headquartered professional services outfit GHD announced on Wednesday it has secured funding from the UK government to install a demonstration plant in England featuring Lavo’s hydrogen-based battery technology, which contains both a water purifier and an electrolyzer, and is specifically designed for incorporation with a solar PV system.

GHD, a cornerstone investor in Lavo, has secured $264,000 (£141,000) from the UK government’s Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to demonstrate the feasibility of a grid-connected energy storage system based on storing hydrogen in Lavo’s innovative and patented metal hydride.

GHD project manager Tej Gidda said the demonstration facility, to be installed at the University of Chester’s Thornton Science Park in England’s northwest, will allow it to effectively demonstrate and prove the concept of Lavo’s hydrogen energy storage system.

“We’re delighted to have the support of BEIS and to be working with our partner and the University of Chester on this important project to demonstrate the feasibility of longer duration hydrogen storage in the UK energy system,” he said.

“Collaborating with clients and industry partners around the world to develop and commercialize new solutions, such as Lavo, puts us in a strong position to harness the enormous opportunities presented by the global energy transition.”

Developed in partnership with the University of New South Wales’ Hydrogen Energy Research Centre, Lavo’s energy storage system contains both a water purifier and electrolyzer, so that solar energy can separate the hydrogen from the water, release the oxygen, and store the hydrogen safely as a solid material by combining it with a patented metal hybrid.

When stored energy is needed, the hydrogen can then be released through a reduction in pressure and diverted into a fuel cell to produce useable electricity.

GHD said the project would help illustrate the economics of creating hydrogen in times of excess renewables electricity generation and storing in long-duration energy storage medium. It will also demonstrate the scalability of Lavo’s modular, stackable hydrogen energy storage device.

Lavo’s hydride technology has seen initial demonstration in Australia but GHD said this project will apply the technology at a larger scale to demonstrate how it can support energy storage for the UK electricity network by providing low cost, and low carbon, hydrogen to local users in the northwest of England.

The UK project will deploy the Lavo technology at a large scale.Image: GHD

The funding is part of the BEIS’s Longer Duration Energy Storage Demonstration program which is in turn part of the UK government’s $1.87 billion (£1bn) Net Zero Innovation Portfolio which aims to accelerate the commercialization of innovative longer duration energy storage technologies which provide grid flexibility.

The BEIS said the latest round of funding aims to demonstrate first-of-a-kind energy storage system prototypes in relevant or operational environments.

“This should build a pipeline of longer duration energy storage systems to be commercially deployed,” it said in a statement.

UK Energy Minister Greg Hands said the project offers the potential to be an important enabler for an emerging hydrogen economy, providing hydrogen for customers at low cost.

“Driving forward energy storage technologies will be vital in our transition towards cheap, clean and secure renewable energy,” he said.

“It will allow us to extract the full benefit from our home-grown renewable energy sources, drive down costs and end our reliance on volatile and expensive fossil fuels.”

The UK government is not the only supporter of Lavo’s hydrogen battery. The company last month secured $5 million in funding from the NSW Regional Job Creation Fund and late last year the Queensland government announced funding for Lavo to help it establish a $15 million hydrogen fuel cell manufacturing facility.

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