The privately owned Phi Suea House development in Chiang Mai consists of 4 family homes and several other purpose-built constructions, fully supported by solar power from photovoltaic panels and an innovative hydrogen energy storage system. During the day, excess solar power is used to run electrolysers and produce hydrogen, which can then be transformed back to electricity in a fuel cell at night.
The energy used at the Phi Suea House is collected from 65kW of PV panels. In order to make the most efficient use of the photovoltaic system, each building has its own solar inverters that feed power into our 3-phase AC grid in the "Energy Building".
The energy building has two main functions:
A. To distribute power and supply all loads via underground power cables
B. To store energy
The innovation lies in our energy storage system – we’ve combined a traditional battery with a self-recharging hydrogen energy storage system to maximise the advantages of each.
During the day solar power is used to run a hydrogen electrolyser to produce hydrogen and store it in tanks.
The hydrogen is then used in a fuel cell to generate electricity once the sun goes down. The only by-products of this process are oxygen and water.
Fuel cells can operate constantly over long periods of time. They don’t like to be switched on and off multiple times a day, Batteries, on the other hand, will reach higher temperatures and depths of discharge under continuous long term use, leading to shorter lifetimes.
Working in conjunction, the fuel cell uses the hydrogen to power most appliances during the night, while the batteries are only discharged to cover peaks in demand.
The energy system has entered the testing phase with the first three buildings in March 2015, and will be 100% operational when the construction is completed in fall 2015.
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