Many big companies like Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Uniper SE are looking into the possibility to use hydrogen for energy storage and actively invest into research. Whereas investment in hydrogen has been comparatively small at $2.5 billion for the previous decade, that is expected to change in the next decade. At present, the majority of investment in energy storage goes to lithium-ion batteries. Although the principle of using hydrogen as energy storage is known, thus far it hasn’t been used commercially.
Unlike lithium-ion batteries, hydrogen can be kept indefinitely in tanks, letting stored energy to be used even after months. This makes hydrogen storage very appealing. Although pumped hydro can also store energy for longer periods, it is dependent on the proper location. Energy storage lets utilities handle better the excess power generated from wind and solar, thus increasing the role renewables could play in the energy system. Still, hydrogen is not without drawbacks either. According to Claire Curry, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, ”government incentives are required to create a market for storage capacity”.
One interesting hydrogen project is the 10 megawatts plant in Fukushima, Japan. It is expected to begin operations in 2021. This project is a collaboration between Toshiba Corp. and the utility Tohoku Electric Power Co. and it could be the biggest one in the world when it is completed /from today’s perspective.
According to Andreas Froemmel, VP of Business and Commercial Development at FCES: “The technology is mature and ready to scale up. To get to the next level we need to continue to show its potential via large scale inter-sectoral demonstrations…”