Hydrogen energy storage in French Guiana

Hydrogen energy storage – French hydrogen specialist HDF Energy have announced their  Centrale électrique de l’Ouest guyanais (CEOG) project, which will be one of the world’s biggest solar-plus-storage power plants. The $90m USD plant is expected to generate around 50 GWh per year and will store energy using hydrogen instead of the usual lithium-ion.

Hydrogen energy storage – Centrale électrique de l’Ouest guyanais in French Guiana

Hydrogen energy storage - Centrale électrique de l’Ouest guyanais in French Guiana
Hydrogen energy storage – Centrale électrique de l’Ouest guyanais in French Guiana (source: hdf-energy.com)

With an equivalent 140 MWh of energy stored, CEOG will be the biggest power plant worldwide storing renewable energy using hydrogen.  

The world’s current largest storage project, which was,developed by Tesla and Neoen in South Australia at the Hornsdale Power Reserve, has a slightly lower size – 129 MWh. It uses lithium-ion technology rather than Hydrogen. Neoen have also looked into alternative methods of energy storage, however – they are currently in the middle of building an “Electrolyser” Hydrogen Superhub at Crystal Brook in South Australia.

Hydrogen energy storage technology

According to the manufacturer HDF, the hydrogen energy storage tech has a number of benefits over lithium-ion, such as enabling the storage of energy for long periods of time with minimal loss. It’s a very simple process to store the energy as hydrogen – you just need an electrolyzer, storage tanks, and a fuel cell. 

Firstly the electrolyzer separates hydrogen and oxygen from a water molecule. The resultant hydrogen is then pressurised and stored in tanks. In the fuel cell the hydrogen is combined with oxygen, which then allows the production of electricity and steam. 

Hydrogen has been suffering a tough time of it as late as the efficiency is quite difficult to improve – typical ranges are from 75-80%, according to PV Magazine (click the link to read a fantastic, in-depth article about the future of storing energy as hydrogen). Further losses of between 5-35% result from compression and cooling of the molecular hydrogen. Even for on-site use or with a direct feed into the gas network, you’ll see conversion efficiency of around 70%. 

We need to continue the research to see if the efficiency of hydrogen can be improved and it’ll be very interesting to see what the numbers are from both the French Guiana project and the superhub at Crystal Brook. We’ll keep you posted! 

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“Electrolyser” Hydrogen Superhub at Crystal Brook

A $25m ‘Hydrogen Superhub’ will be built by French renewable giant Neoen in Crystal Brook, South Australia. The state government has committed $25m in grants and loans to Neoen to finalise plans and commence construction on the superhub. It still requires development approvals but looks like the project will go ahead. This would be the largest hydrogen plant in the world. 

Hydrogen Superhub at Crystal Brook

Hydrogen Superhub at Crystal Brook
Hydrogen Superhub –
a hydrogen atom with size of central proton shown (source: wikipedia.org)

The 50MW electrolyser facility on wind and solar farm at Crystal Brook would produce up to 400MW of solar and wind power each day, which would then be used to power the hydrogen electrolyser which would create up to 20,000kg of hydrogen daily, according to the ABC.

Tom Koutsantonis, the South Australian Energy Minister discussed SA’s plans with regards to hydrogen production and potential export:

“Our Hydrogen Roadmap has laid the groundwork for South Australia to become a world leader in the emerging hydrogen production industry, and to benefit from the economic opportunities likely to flow from it,” he said.

“More renewable energy means cheaper power, and I’m pleased the State Government can partner with Neoen to once again develop a world-leading renewable energy and storage project following the construction of the Tesla battery at Jamestown.”

MD of Neoen’s operations in Australia, Franck Woitiez, discussed the possibility of exporting the hydrogen intrastate and even into different countries:

“It has the potential to reach beyond our electricity grids, and supply South Australia’s locally produced clean energy to other states and to our nearby trading partners,” he said.

The Flinders News report that the Hydrogen Superhub will create 260 construction jobs, 40 ongoing positions and at least $600 million in Neoen investments. They also note that the Renewable Technology Fund have given grants to three other hydrogen projects:

 

 

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