Photoncycle’s innovative technology is said to be able to store solar energy more cheaply than current batteries. The news was reported by the website Hydrogen Fuel News.
Interseasonal storage will make it possible to use excess solar energy produced in the sunny months to generate heat and electricity in the winter. According to representatives of the Norwegian startup, the key to bringing this solution to market is solid hydrogen.
A breakthrough technology for solar energy storage is represented by a device consisting of a copper cylinder wrapped in strong polystyrene. The cylinder contains a proprietary solution of solid hydrogen that is said to have more efficient storage capabilities than batteries or liquid hydrogen.
Currently, the copper cylinder energy storage device is no bigger than a chair and would be found in a science park in Oslo. The company plans to install a larger model, approximately three cubic meters in size, near residential buildings. Solar panels on the surrounding roofs will supply the system with energy, which will be stored in the device. Any excess energy is sold to the electricity grid.
Due to the temporary shortcomings of the storage technology, only about 50% of the solar energy produced in the summer will be used. “The remaining 50% still has no use, so it goes to waste. If you can store that surplus and then release it in the winter or when there is real demand for energy, you have a real chance to make a difference.” declares Bjørn Brandtzaeg, founder of Photoncycle.
They fixed hydrogen
Brandtzaeg, in cooperation with experts from the academic sphere, created a non-flammable solution that prevents excessive energy losses in the conversion process. “We lock hydrogen molecules into a solid to essentially fix them,” explains Brandtzaeg. “We use a reversible high-temperature fuel cell, so we can produce both hydrogen and electricity in the same device.” Solid hydrogen does not require refrigeration, is non-flammable and has a higher density compared to lithium-ion batteries.
Currently, one of the problems Photoncycle faces with its solar energy storage system is heat loss. This occurs in the fuel cell during the entry and exit of hydrogen. The company’s goal is to capture this heat and use it to heat homes. Surplus heat could be efficiently supplied to households, because according to Brandtzaeg, 70% of household energy consumption is related to heating.
Test market in Denmark
According to Photoncycle’s founder, the system, which takes about a day to install and includes solar panels, connects directly to existing infrastructure. Natural gas can thus replace renewable energy in the system of combined heat and electricity production. The company chose Denmark as a test market for its solar energy storage system. The main reason is some of the highest energy prices in Europe that people pay here.