“24 hours of sun is possible because we are able to make renewable energy available around the clock,” asserts Martin Hackl, Global Director Sales & Marketing, Solar Energy, Fronius International “The technology to turn our vision into reality is already there, the generation of hydrogen through electrolysis being one example. Used in combination with a fuel cell, hydrogen has the potential to completely revolutionise the entire supply of energy.” Hydrogen is versatile and is very easy to store. It can be used as a fuel in vehicles or to supply energy to generate heat and electricity. Nevertheless, hydrogen can only be said to be renewable if it is generated using solar or wind power to produce ’green hydrogen’.
Research and development location
“The Hydrogen Competence Center in Steinhaus is the ideal way to combine our resources and drive forward hydrogen research, development, production and sales in H2 systems,” says Walter Stockinger, Global Director Research & Development, Solar Energy, Fronius International. “Training and customer presentations will also be conducted under one roof in the future.” The high-tech company is further expanding its know-how through numerous collaborations, innovative pilot projects and its participation in expert panels focused on hydrogen power. This modern development location will therefore serve as an innovation hub and provide the ideal trial and test environment for the latest H2 applications.
Hydrogen will above all play a central role in the decarbonisation of transport – its benefits are most clearly seen where large ranges, heavy loads and short refuelling times are among the considerations. The zero-emission, low-noise and powerful hydrogen drive has great potential when replacing conventional combustion engines in diverse vehicle types, such as buses, HGVs, special vehicles and forklift trucks. Fronius has already developed a solution that is scalable depending on the customer’s requirements: the Fronius Solhub. The facility at Steinhaus will have its very own Solhub, including reconversion and storage systems, and hydrogen vehicles are now being added to the existing vehicle fleet.
Powering vehicles with green hydrogen from solar energy
The Fronius Solhub, which was recently singled out for ’The Smarter E Award 2020’ in the ’Smart Renewable Energy’ category, is a complete turnkey solution for decentralised hydrogen production, storage and
supply. It uses electrolysis to convert environmentally friendly energy generated on-site into green hydrogen, which can be stored over the long term. Not only that, a further positive side-effect of the electrolysis and reconversion process is that the waste heat can be used to heat buildings or generate hot water, maximising the overall efficiency of the system.
An increasing number of vehicle manufacturers are already offering models or prototypes with fuel cells. Examples include buses, HGVs, internal logistics vehicles and even piste machines. The next stage is to install the necessary refuelling infrastructure. The Solhub allows companies, municipalities and other organisations to produce their own fuel in the form of green hydrogen at the precise location where it is needed. It is often the case that large roof areas are available for the installation of photovoltaic systems and, once they are in place, the generation of clean, green hydrogen can start!
 Other awards: VCÖ Mobility Award Upper Austria (2020), Energy Star Award of the State of Upper Austria in the “Innovation” category (2019), National Environmental and Energy Technology Award (2018)