Scientists want to commercialize solar panels that produce hydrogen

It looks like a normal solar panel, but nothing could be further from the truth. This panel produces green hydrogen instead of green electricity. And this is quite special.

At KU Leuven, a group of researchers called ‘The Solhyd project‘has been developing its hydrogen panel for more than ten years. The panel they produce is a type of solar panel that converts water vapor from the air into hydrogen using sunlight. Now they want to bring the idea to market.

Roof house

Green hydrogen is now produced with an electrolyser and green electricity. Also known as hydrogen factories, electrolysers use sunlight to split H2O into water and oxygen. But electrolysers are expensive to build and are the heart of the electrolyser rare materials such as iridium and platinum.

By placing the hydrogen panels on the roof of the house, consumers can produce hydrogen themselves. With this you can fill up your car with hydrogen or, for example, heat your home. But hydrogen is also an interesting energy carrier for industry: processes such as steel production cannot be electrified, as they require very high temperatures. Hydrogen is a solution for this. Because, just like natural gas, you can burn it.

Read also: The energy transition is in jeopardy due to the lack of raw materials for electrolysis.

Better than an electrolyser?

This hydrogen panel from Flemish researchers has an energy conversion efficiency of 15%. This means that you can produce an average of 250 liters of hydrogen gas per day with one panel. According to the researchers, you can survive the winter with 20 panels in a well-insulated house.

According to hydrogen professor Ad van Wijk, the hydrogen panel is interesting, but there are two important points to consider. “Because rare materials are required in an electrolyser, the process is expensive. You also have to take degradation into account. With a solar panel, the yield drops by half a percent every year. What about these panels?”

No rare materials

The research team writes on their website that there are no rare materials in their hydrogen panel, and it is therefore cheaper than electrolysis.

The panels are not yet ready for large-scale production, but small-scale development of the panels is already being considered. So that the hydrogen panel can be placed on the market in 2030. The costs will initially be high, think the researchers. But they expect the cost will eventually be close to that of a solar panel today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Recent News