FuelCell. Energy, Inc. (FCEL) has announced a market-driven energy storage solution that converts power during periods of low demand into hydrogen (H2), an energy carrier, through high efficiency electrolysis using solid oxide electrolysis cells (SOEC).

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is supporting this development with a $3m cost-share contract to advance SOEC system design that will be added to its Advanced Technology backlog for the fourth quarter of 2016.

“This support from the Department of Energy helps us to advance our innovative long-duration storage solution for large-scale utility applications,” said Chip Bottone, CEO, FCEL. “Energy storage economics are driven by the round-trip efficiency and we feel we have a very compelling solution for utilities desiring affordable storage that is flexible and long duration with the added benefit of minimal land needs.”

Efficient conversion of power to H2 is the first step of the solid oxide energy storage system, using H2 as an energy carrier. When power is needed, the H2 is cleanly and efficiently converted back into power using the same solid oxide system in fuel cell power generation mode.

 “We feel we have a very compelling solution for utilities desiring affordable storage that is flexible and long duration with the added benefit of minimal land needs”

Chip Bottone, CEO, FuelCell Energy, Inc.

H2 produced from SOEC can be stored and used for grid-power, H2 fueling stations or for industrial purposes as an alternative to natural gas reforming.

SOEC can also be applied as a clean and highly efficient solution for storing excess power produced by intermittent technologies when their output exceeds the needs of the electric grid.

“Hydrogen is a very attractive energy storage medium as it can be compressed and stored for long periods of time at minimal cost,” said Tony Leo, Vice-President of Applications and Advanced Technology Development.

“Additional storage capacity can be easily and inexpensively added at one of our installations by just adding more hydrogen storage capacity, without increasing the size of the fuel cell power plant, which makes the technology an attractive solution of the growing number of storage applications that will require long duration and flexible energy storage.”