A significant number of people want to become self-sufficient in energy. With this in mind, an Australian company offers the very first hydrogen battery for individuals. However, if this innovation seems interesting on paper, it is less so in reality.
A battery with a storage capacity of 40 kWh
For individuals, becoming self-sufficient in energy is not that easy. Indeed, the installation of photovoltaic panels is not always enough, unless you live in a constantly exposed region under the sun. Thus, many people try to store their energy in order to reuse it during periods when production is limited. Tesla already offers its lithium-on Powerwall battery, which has a storage capacity of 13.5kWh.
As explained New Atlas in an article from January 22, 2021, an Australian company offers an alternative. This is Lavo, whose battery is based on a technology full of promise : hydrogen. The storage capacity of the Lavo Green Energy Solar System is much greater than that of the PowerWall, namely 40 kWh. In addition, this battery is managed very simply, using a smartphone application.
Thanks to the electrolysis of water, the battery accumulates solar energy in the form of hydrogen. The energy in question can be restored subsequently in solid form (metal hydride) at a pressure of thirty bars, that is to say practically thirty times atmospheric pressure.
A few advantages and a lot of disadvantages
For now, the Lavo Green Energy Solar System is only available in Australia at a price of around 22,000 euros. However, this product should undergo a slight decline in the context of its launch on the world market from 2022. If the promised performance is almost three times greater than that of the PowerWall, its price is also much higher. The battery benefits de Lavo are: no polluting metals, a lifespan of thirty years (instead of fifteen) and its rather small size.
However, the reality could be a little less bright. Indeed, lithium batteries store 90% of the electricity produced, but the electrolysis efficiency is less important (about 70%). In addition, the return of electricity via the fuel cell is synonymous with a loss of 50% of electricity. Thus, counting the yield and the losses, the capacity of the Lavo Green Energy Solar System would not be 40 kWh, but rather about 14 kWh.
In addition, the pitfalls tend to accumulate. Indeed, the power of the fuel cell is limited to 5 kW against 7 kW for the Powerwall. From a safety point of view, hydrides are also quite sensitive to air and humidity. A reaction releasing heat and hydrogen can then take place. Lavo promises rapid dispersion of hydrogen in the event of a leak and absence of risk of explosion. However, this point naturally raises questions, beyond the price and performance ultimately below expectations.