• Solenco Powerbox™

    The missing link for mass uptake of Solar PV

Background

Concept

Balancing of renewable energy supply and demand


The Powerbox is a fully integrated solution for storing excess renewable energy. It can store all excess energy generated from Solar PV or wind and convert it back into electricity and heat. It is designed to be integrated into buildings and increases the self consumption of the generated renewable energy. It effectively balances supply and demand of renewable energy all year round.

The Powerbox stores the energy in a smart way and using hydrogen as energy vector. This storage can provide energy to buildings for hours, days and even months.

Energy autonomy

Increase your self-consumption and avoid injection of excess Solar PV energy. Store your excess energy for later use and help balancing the grid.

Green sustainale energy

The Powerbox is 100% emission free and does not contain large quantities of rare earth materials. The solution is 100% sustainable.

Play the grid

Interact in a smart way with the energy grid. Consume energy when pricing is low and feed in when tariffs are high. Avoid peak tariffs by shaving your peaks using the Powerbox.

Excess renewable energy is used to charge available battery storage devices for short term balancing (hours). Additional excess solar PV production is used to generate green hydrogen and store energy for long term balancing (days, months).

Solar panels (or wind mills) function as the sole source of energy for the building. There is no need for a natural gas network connection either as is in the case of competing solutions. The electricity grid connection is used in a “smart” way to interact with other grid producers and consumers.

Electricity needs are covered by the solar panels during day time and only the surplus is sent to the SPB™ to be stored as hydrogen. When there’s no sunshine, electricity and heat are produced by the SPB™ from the stored hydrogen, together at >90% efficiency.

It can function to assist the hot water needs for heating and sanitary water. If production of heat would be higher than requested, heat will be stored in a hot water tank.

The whole system has a CO2 production of 0 gram. The product is therefore triple- zero-carbon: since neither the Production, Distribution, nor Usage introduces greenhouse gases.

Configuration examples


The following table show some typical configuration examples on how the Powerbox can be used.

Solenco has developped a detailed simulation tool that optimises the sizing of all components of the building installation. A detailed study is recommended for every situation and demand profiles.

The Powerbox is currently only limited available for pilot projects. Expected general commercial availability will be announced later.

Table – Solenco Powerbox Configurations
Office building
Solar PV installation size 50 kWp
Yearly energy consumption (e+h) 85 MWh
Battery pack 30 kWh
Hydrogen storage 1800 L
Residential multi-tenant building
Solar PV installation size 50 kWp
Yearly energy consumption (e+h) 85 MWh
Battery pack 30 kWh
Hydrogen storage 1800 L
Background

How it works

Reversible fuel cell process


The Powerbox has the following integrated components that work seemlessly together and are controlled via a cloud enabled software platform:

  • Electrolyser mode
  • Fuel cell mode
  • Power electronics and AC/DC rectification and conversion
  • Internal battery
  • Water treatment system
  • Hot water tank and cooling loop
  • Safety system
  • Smart energy software control system

The hydrogen compression and storage is not integrated and is done in gas vessels that are certified for high pressure hydrogen storage.

Reversible Process
Power kW


Hydrogen Storage
Energy kWh


Power
Management System


Cloud
Web
Application


Background

Specifications


Table – Solenco Powerbox Specifications
PRODUCT SPB 1×1 SPB 3×1
Stack technology Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM)
Electrolyser Mode
Nominal Input Power 5 kW 15 kW
Nominal Production Rate 1000 Nl/h 3000 Nl/h
Water consumption 1 l/h 3 l/h
Output pressure 20 Bar 20 Bar
Purity of H2 99,99 % 99,99 %
Fuel Cell Mode
Nominal Output Power 5 kW 5 kW
Peak Output Power (sec) 10 kW 10 kW
Nominal Heat Output 4 kW 4 kW
Oxidant composition Air Air
Water Treatment System
Technology Mixed bed resin Mixed bed resin
Water conductivity 1 μS or lower 1 μS or lower
Water buffer tank
Hot water buffer tank 200 L 200 L
Maximum temperature 50°C 50°C
Power Management
Voltage and frequency relay Type UFR1001E Type UFR1001E
Electrical connection 230V AC 50A mono-phasic 230V AC 50A three-phasic
Battery pack 8,8 kWh 8,8 kWh
Dimensions
Empty net weight 358 kg 428 kg
Outer dimension LxWxH (m) 0,82 x 1,40 x 1,80 0,82 x 1,40 x 1,80
Solenco Powerbox Specifications Table
Background

Use cases

  • Innovathuis

    Stad aan ‘t Haringvliet – Netherlands

Innovathuis

Project description (2019)

Together with Hylife innovations, Solenco installed the first hydrogen powered house in The Netherlands. The house, located in a residential neighbourhood in Stad aan ‘t Haringvliet, was the result of a strong cooperation between many parties to realise what is called “the first Dutch hydrogen home”.

The aim of this project was to demonstrate and test the use of hydrogen in a residential environment. The Powerbox was installed with a hydrogen tank of 1200L in the garden. The necessary permits, certifications and safety measures were investigated and obtained for this project.

  • GIACOMINI Benelux

    Bierges – Belgium

POWERBOX – GIA 2020

Project description (2020)

Giacomini is an Italian specialist in heating equipment for buildings. They have a very long history and experience. This family owned company pioneered with hydrogen based heating solutions (catalyic boiler) back in the early 2000’s. Today, the vision of Giacomini is to develop their product range for heating homes and buildings towards the use of hydrogen as a clean energy.

The Powerbox is installed in the head office of Giacomini Benelux in Bierges, Belgium. The Powerbox is connected to the local heating system (via a hot water buffer tank).

  • IZEN

    Lille – Belgium

IZEN Hoeksken

Project description (2021)

IZEN is a specialist in Solar PV installatiosn from small residential kW scale up to industrial MW scale. They installed a Powerbox in their head office in Lille to balance excess Solar PV energy. In the weekends or on very sunny weekdays, there is often too much production of Solar PV and the installation is limited in terms of allowed injection into the grid. Now with the Powerbox, the energy is stored and converted back on weekdays to usefull power the office building. As a next step, IZEN will install electric charging points for cars. Also here the Powerbox will support providing the necessary power and energy at the right moments in time.

The Powerbox is also connected to the heating system of the building (a water-water heat pump) via the hot water buffer tank. Recuperated heat from the Powerbox is used to support the heating of the building.

Background

Safety & Control


Monitoring & control software


Description of monitoring & control cloud software

Safety & certification


Description of safety measure and certification

Background

Most frequently asked questions & answers


What is the advantage of the Solenco Powerbox?

Hydrogen-based storage has the following advantages:

  • The storage capacity is unlimited and it is possible with a sufficiently large PV installation to store enough energy in the summer to bridge the winter. Hydrogen can therefore be used as a long-term storage facility to provide buildings with green energy throughout the year
  • The entire system is completely CO 2 -free. No fossil fuel is used anywhere
  • There are no toxic materials in the Powerbox and the lifespan is long
  • The system provides electricity and heat to homes in an efficient manner

Can I be fully autonomous with a Solenco Powerbox?

This is of course possible, but is not really necessary if there is a stable and reliable network. The role of the grid will evolve in the future to smartly share electricity with others. In the future, we will evolve more and more towards a “smart” grid that will coordinate all available (mostly decentralized) devices for production, storage and consumption as closely as possible via smart software. Just think of charging cars when the sun is shining or storing energy when there is a lot of wind at night but little consumption and there are many more examples.

Is a Solenco Powerbox better than a home battery?

The Solenco Powerbox can do what a home battery does for short term energy storage and adds long term (seasonal) storage based on hydrogen. It is a hybrid system that combines the power of batteries (many cycles with little electrical loss and fast response) with the power of hydrogen (very large energy storage in a smaller volume and for a lower price per kWh). Everything is controlled by a smart energy management system.

Batteries have a shorter life. The Powerbox is an environmentally friendly energy storage technology without toxic components.

Can the Solenco Powerbox heat my house?

The Solenco Powerbox is a so-called µCHP (micro combined power-heat, micro heat-power coupling) system that supplies electricity and heat. In most situations, the Powerbox alone will not provide sufficient heat output to heat up a building completely. That is why a connection with a heating system, eg a heat pump, is recommended. Exact calculations must be made for every situation.

Does the Solenco Powerbox offer a solution for the future capacity tariff?

Since the Powerbox tries to use as little energy from the grid as possible and always use the stored energy first, peak consumption is avoided. The capacity tariff is based on your largest consumption peaks over a period (eg per month) to determine what tariff you will have to pay for your electricity. Due to the Powerbox, these consumption peaks will be considerably lower, provided the installation is correctly dimensioned in relation to consumption.

How big is the Solenco Powerbox and the hydrogen storage?

The ground surface of the Powerbox is the size of a pallet (80 * 120 cm) and is approximately 180 cm high. The storage tanks have a surface area of 1m2 per 600 kWh energy storage.

What is my self-consumption with the Solenco Powerbox?

An average PV installation on a home without energy storage typically has its own consumption (simultaneous consumption) of 30% of the yield of the installation. The surplus is injected into the grid. This percentage naturally depends on the size of the installation and the consumption profile and is different for each situation.

An energy storage system can bring this self-consumption to an average of 80-90% and if the storage is sufficiently large and / or the consumption is very efficient, even up to 100%.

So aren’t there any downsides?

Hydrogen has been used in industry for decades. However, it is not yet common in our daily life and the built environment. We are familiar with natural gas and liquid fossil fuels for heating and transport, but hydrogen is still unknown and therefore new in our daily lives. There is no mass production at the moment, which makes the components relatively expensive. Prices will fall due to increasing volumes.

Hydrogen is stored as a gas under pressure, so safety is an important aspect. The necessary regulations and safety regulations in this area must be respected. The Solenco Powerbox installations are subjected to thorough inspections and certifications before they are put into use.

Do I still need a grid connection for gas and electricity?

A gas connection is not necessary if you heat with a heat pump. An electricity connection is recommended for smart energy sharing and participation in the future smart grid.

How efficient is the Solenco Powerbox?

The energy efficiency is over 90% for generating electricity and heat from hydrogen.

What is the power and how much energy can I store with it?

The Solenco Powerbox has an input and output power of 5 kW nominal. This means that up to 5 kW of electrical power can be converted into hydrogen as input. The output is also 5 kW electrical nominal. Peak output power can go up to 10 kW for a short time. During operation, heat is also released that can be used via a hot water tank to support the building’s heating demand.

The advantage of energy storage based on hydrogen is that power and energy storage are separate and can be dimensioned independently of each other. The storage of energy in this way is only limited by the available storage volume of the gas tanks. 1 kg of hydrogen contains approximately 33.33 kWh of energy. A tank of 1 m3 can store up to 600 kWh of energy under high pressure (300 bar). Several tanks can be connected to a Powerbox.

Does the Solenco Powerbox provide a solution for the rollback counter?

PV energy that cannot be used immediately is converted and stored. This PV energy is therefore not injected into the grid, which makes the Powerbox a solution for using self-generated electricity as well as possible. The investment is still high today, which means that in most cases there is no quick payback time.

When can I buy the Solenco Powerbox?

A limited number of installations are currently being tested in real situations (pilot projects). The Solenco Powerbox is therefore not yet for sale to the general public. You can stay informed of our developments by subscribing to our newsletter on our contact page

What will the price of a Powerbox be?

Currently, this form of energy storage is most interesting in combination with large PV installations, eg for companies and / or for buildings with several residential units. Today, a Powerbox is also an interesting option for project development with communal facilities to increase self-consumption and make it more sustainable. For a typical residential single-family home, the investment is still significant today. Solenco expects that if production volumes increase, prices can fall sharply and become interesting also for single-family homes.