To get off the grid with home solar, you need to be able to generate energy when the Sun’s out, and store it for when it’s not. Normally, people do this with lithium battery systems – Tesla’s Powerwall 2 is an example. But Australian company Lavo has built a rather spunky (if chunky) cabinet that can sit on the side of your house and store your excess energy as hydrogen.
The Lavo Green Energy Storage System measures 1,680 x 1,240 x 400 mm (66 x 49 x 15.7 inches) and weighs a meaty 324 kg (714 lb), making it very unlikely to be pocketed by a thief. You connect it to your solar inverter (it has to be a hybrid one) and the mains water (through a purification unit), and sit back as it uses excess energy to electrolyze the water, releasing oxygen and storing the hydrogen in a patented metal hydride “sponge” at a pressure of 30 bar, or 435 psi.
It stores some 40 kilowatt-hours worth of energy, three times as much as Tesla’s current Powerwall 2 and enough to run an average home for two days. And when that energy is needed, it uses a fuel cell to deliver energy into the home, adding a small 5-kWh lithium buffer battery for instantaneous response. There’s Wi-Fi connectivity, and a phone app for monitoring and control, and businesses with higher power needs can run several in parallel to form an “intelligent virtual power plant.”
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