LONDON, United Kingdom — [Editor's note: This article originally appeared at BusinessGreen.com and is reprinted with permission.]
French startup McPhy Energy has delivered the first commercial-scale prototype of a solid-state hydrogen storage tank, which it claims could solve the challenge presented to grid operators by the intermittent nature of many renewable energy sources.
The Grenoble-based company this week announced that it has signed a research contract with CEA Liten, the French Laboratory of Innovation for New Energy, to test two storage tanks. The first 1kg tank was delivered last month and will be followed by a larger 15kg storage tank, due to be delivered in the second half of the year.
McPhy claims that its "game-changing technology" can store hydrogen at low pressure in a short space of time.
It said that the tank could be connected to a hydrogen production system that could be powered using electricity from a wind farm or solar power plant to be stored. Once stored, the hydrogen could either be converted back to electricity using a fuel cell, or used to supply the growing market for hydrogen.
The company added that the modular design of the storage systems will allow for loading and unloading of hydrogen with almost no energy losses.
CEA Liten will now begin testing the storage units on an industrial scale for the first time by storing electricity from an electrolyser and a fuel cell as a simulation of renewable energy sources.
Speaking to BusinessGreen.com, McPhy chief executive Pascal Mauberger said that the company plans to start commercial production of the tanks at its headquarters from July this year. He added that he was hoping to see revenues for the firm grow to around €100m within five years, as more and more renewable energy projects look for a cost-effective means to store energy.
However, he admitted that while demand for the technology from renewable energy projects is set to grow, it is initially expected to provide only one-third of revenue for the company, with the other two-thirds coming from the merchant hydrogen sector.