Effective electricity storage would be a great boon for solar power systems. Most solar PV system owners don’t have it. Battery storage systems are not that affordable yet, nor are they typically the right size.
They probably will be in the future, and there is a little movement in this field. However, batteries are not the only way of storing electricity generated by solar panels. Stanford researchers are looking into converting it into hydrogen gas. The process of electrolysis passes electricity through water to separate the oxygen and hydrogen. “It’s exciting to make these connections between really different areas of technology and aim to operate at the meta-level of science,” explained Professor Jaramillo.
The process sometimes uses platinum as a catalyst, but it is expensive so the researchers investigated a cheaper one called molybdenum phosphosulfide. If all this talk sounds pie-in-the-sky because its about lab results, the context is a multi-billion dollar global energy storage market.
Market research also might sound more hypothetical than practical. There has been for a number of years, an American homeowner who operates his house using a combination of solar power and hydrogen.
“Strizki has since offered educational tours of his home to show how effective the system is at providing clean, safe, renewable energy. His house is completely off the grid, and the only byproducts of his system are chemically pure water and medical grade oxygen.”
So, it is possible for a homeowner to employ a solar power system at home and store energy made by it in the form of hydrogen to use later. The byproduct of burning hydrogen is water. Hydrogen can also be stored in tanks for months, so it can be used during winter months when there is less sunlight for solar panels. Would you consider using a home hydrogen system to convert electricity to a gas that can be stored?
Image Credit: NREL