100% renewable targets will require power storage to manage flows on the net
Electrolysers utilise these intermittent power flows to produce H2 gas from water
H2 gas can be stored in large quantities underground and transported via existing gas pipelines
H2 vehicles recharge faster and are more durable than battery powered transport
Growing H2 demand in industrial processes will reduce costs and increase supply

After 10 years of research and development, Professor Johan Martens’ group of bioscience engineers at KU Leuven finally created a solar panel that produces hydrogen gas from air moisture. The solar panel can indicate the quantities produced through an attached flask containing water to the device where hydrogen bubbles can be observed rising to the surface. The new prototype is ready for field testing which can demonstrate to produce a world record 250 litres of H2 gas per day which means that 20 of such solar panels, each converting 15% of the sunlight into H2 gas could provide electricity and heat for a family in an entire year.

The first test of 20 hydrogen gas panels will be installed in one of the houses in Oud-Heverlee, a rural town in Flemish Brabant. If all goes well, more panels will be installed on a piece of land in the street allowing the other families in the street to benefit from the project. The H2 gas produced in the summer will be stored and converted into electricity and heat for the winter season.

However, this news comes at a month after the launch of the largest solar power plant in Central Asia located in Kazakhstan’s central region of Karaganda. The $137 million plant covers around 164 acres of land consisting of 307,000 solar panels with a total capacity of 100 MW.

Photo: Courtesy of KU Leuven – Tom Bosserez