Off the Grid, Batteries Not Included

PV to H to Fuel cell

by Emil Morhardt

If there’s a need for electricity, but there aren’t any power lines nearby, the approach of choice today, in sunny climes, is photovoltaic (PV) panels connected to batteries. But the total amount of electricity that can be stored is then dependent on the number batteries, and if a relatively large amount of storage is needed, this could be prohibitively expensive, heavy, and not very portable. With the advent of hydrogen fuel cells small enough to fit into an automobile and operational at low temperatures, perhaps a fully self-contained electrical generation system could be based on PV panels electrolyzing water to make hydrogen gas, which could then be stored in low-pressure tanks in amounts as large as needed. That’s what Cabezas et al. (2014) decided to experiment with. Continue reading