The Highly Efficient & Low Cost Photovoltaic-Electrolysis System project is a promising approach to produce renewable hydrogen (H2) for export from sunlight and water. The main obstacle to utilising PVE to produce H2 is the high cost and modest efficiency.
The project aims to lower the cost of renewable hydrogen produced via PVE by improving the energy efficiency of transition metal-based alkaline water electrolysers and the overall solar to hydrogen (STH) conversion efficiency of PVE systems. This approach is anticipated to lead to the development of an integrated PVE system demonstrating an overall solar-to hydrogen (STH) conversion efficiency >30%.
How the project works
The Highly Efficient & Low Cost Photovoltaic-Electrolysis System project is using an innovative approach to develop a low-cost, highly efficient, integrated PVE system to harvest the whole spectrum of sunlight as the sole source of electricity, heat and light, which then will power an alkaline water electrolyser to convert renewable primary energy (solar) to hydrogen. The world’s highest efficiency Concentrator Photo Voltaic (CPV) receivers from Raygen and novel electrocatalyst composites from UNSW will be utilised to achieve this outcome.
Report: Highly Efficient & Low Cost Photovoltaic-Electrolysis System Midterm Activity Sept 2020
This report documents the mid-term progress towards the project’s aims of demonstrating the production of hydrogen using a concentrated PV receiver that leverages the heat and electricity generated to power an electrolyser with novel catalyst materials.
Area of innovation
Hydrogen as energy carrier poses several apparent advantages including readily attainable storage and transportation, clean and high energy density. The current technology used to produce over 90% of hydrogen stock is by steam reforming of methane. The project will use an integrated Photo-Voltaic Electrolysis (PVE) heat exchange technology and active and cost-effective catalyst materials to convert sunlight to hydrogen. The successful deployment of the PVE system will enable the production of H2 via a clean sustainable pathway and confirm Australia as a leader in renewable energy research and technology.
By increasing the performance efficiency and lowering the hydrogen cost from electrolysis to meet or surpass the predicted hydrogen cost from PVE system (reported by CSIRO for 2030), this technology will make Australia a competitive country for generating and exporting renewable hydrogen.
Researchers are developing new ways to export Australia’s renewable energy in the form of hydrogen.
Hydrogen offers a way to produce a renewable, emissions-free fuel using the power of the sun and wind.
In recent weeks, the buzz around the potential for hydrogen to unlock opportunities to export renewable energy to the world has gone from a light murmur to a loud hum.