While solar panels are a great source of renewable energy for a home, a lot of it is wasted, since the need for power is not always constant. A battery array is one way to solve this, but a series of homes recently built in Chiang Mai, Thailand, presents a different and cleaner solution. The designers have come up with a way to turn the excess power produced into hydrogen and storing it for later use in this way. This so-called Phi Suea House development consists of four single family homes. They were developed by CNX Construction and will be the world’s first homes to be powered by solar-powered hydrogen storage.
Once completed, the entire development will feature 114 kW of photovoltaic panels, which will generate about 441 kWh of electricity each day. Some of the excess power, will be stored in a couple of 2,000-Ah lead-acid battery banks. Then, by applying an electrical current to water, electrolyzes will be used to turn much of the rest of the excess power into hydrogen gas. The latter will then be stored and released as needed by being changed back into electricity through the use of fuel cells.
According to the developer, this is the most effective and eco-friendly way of storing excess solar energy. Furthermore, the process is very clean since the only byproducts are water and oxygen. They also claim that once fully operational the system will be able to produce a maximum of 440 gal (2,000 l) of hydrogen per hour. The storage capacity will be 19,800 gal (90,000 l). They estimate that the housing development will require about 200 kWh of power per day, and that the fuel cells will produce 120 kWh of power at full storage, which means that the 80 kWh of power that will be required overnight will easily be supplied by the hydrogen storage system.
The houses will also be fitted with solar hot water panels, which will take care of all hot water needs. The homes will also feature double glazing, thick walls, natural ventilation, efficient fans to minimize air conditioning use, as well as large windows to let in plenty of daylight, and efficient LED lamps.
The housing development will be fully operational by the end of January 2016.