While off-grid electricity generators based on traditional fossil fuels can be turned on and off according to demand, stand-alone renewable energy facilities require to be coupled to an energy storage system in view of balancing the variable electricity supply with the demand.
Electrolysers, coupled with tanks, a fuel cell and a control system, offer the possibility to do so through the storage of energy in the form of hydrogen: the hydrogen is produced from water by the electrolyser when the electricity produced is in excess of demand and conversely, it is re-converted into electricity by the fuel cell when the renewable installation is generating insufficient amounts.
FCH JU project ELY4OFF addresses the improvement of the polymer exchange membrane electrolyser (PEME) technology, specifically targeting off-grid environments where electricity is produced by a renewable energy installation: this involves a demanding system which can operate with variable, not fully predictable electrical input power according to the real-time generation conditions (i.e. wind, sun) and the need for high reliability as maintenance is not readily achievable in the remote areas addressed.
ELY4OFF started 5 months ago and is scheduled to last 3 years, with a budget of 2.3 MEUR fully covered by the FCH JU.