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Alternative for the battery: hydrogen!

26 July 2019 

Elfa lives on batteries and has had over 100 year of expertise in the field of batteries. Still, it is not blind to other developments. We think that the battery for small-scale use will continue playing an important role. But where batteries will move cars, or, bigger still, supply power to houses and companies, we expect that the role of the battery will become small in the decades to come. After all, hydrogen offers a better alternative.


If we want to store wind and solar power for a long time, converting it into hydrogen seems to be the best option now. The green electricity splits water into an oxygen and hydrogen process through an electrolysis process. Some energy is lost, but the obvious advantage is that hydrogen gas can then be stored in tanks indefinitely. When incinerated, the energy is released again, but without CO2 in contract to the combustion of natural gas where CO2 is released. The residual product is pure water.


Plans are currently being elaborated for an energy island in the North Sea with a hydrogen plant that converts electricity from offshore wind farms into clean gas. Factories can use hydrogen as an energy source or as a raw material. And it can even be brought to our homes via the existing natural gas network. Cars can drive on it. And these hydrogen cars can in turn function as power plants that supply electricity to the grid at peak hours. We believe in it and meanwhile also see countless applications for the battery.

Energy agreement requires batteries

26 July 2019 

Thanks to the energy agreement, the convenience of energy from gas and coal will be behind us in the future. We will have to use energy in a completely different way. By 2030, the amount of green electricity produced from nature in the Netherlands must have quintupled. This requires hundreds of additional windmills, and millions of solar panels will be installed.


The downside of this type of energy is that it is only available the moment the sun shines and the wind blows. So a different approach is required. The world will work with ‘smart devices’: devices that switch on the moment enough power is available. In the same way we will charge the electric car and industry will have to work with electricity as well. In the future, the chemical plant will achieve top production on a windy


But it will also prove necessary to store electricity. Eneco recently built Europe’s largest battery in northern Germany. The battery is seventy meters long and has reportedly cost over 30 million euros. The wind energy that can be stored in it is just enough to supply 5,300 households with electricity once a day. This mainly proves that this solution is too expensive and extensive for the power supply.


Nevertheless, Elfa expects that large batteries will soon form part of the electricity network. After all, these mega batteries are useful to keep the electricity grid in balance. The frequency of the electricity grid must remain constant exactly at fifty hertz. Nowadays, gas-fired power plants can still be shut down when the wind blows hard, or out of gas on cloudy days. But in the near future those power stations will no longer exist. Batteries can then form a buffer that provides stability. Including the batteries from cars. We will soon have millions of electric cars in the Netherlands. These cars stand still more than 90% of the time. At peak times, owners can choose to return power from the car battery to the electricity grid.

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