To be a solution, though, hydrogen storage costs would have to come down dramatically. A hydrogen-based energy storage system costs about 10 times more than a diesel back-up generator with similar power output, according to a Toshiba Corp. presentation at the World Smart Energy Week in Tokyo in March.
While battery storage has received most of the attention so far, hydrogen has "massive long-term potential," said Didier Holleaux, executive vice president at Engie.
"Batteries are fine for intraday, or a few hours," Holleaux said in an interview in Singapore. "But if you produce energy in summer and need it in winter, or need it to last during a few cloudy days, then hydrogen would be the obvious solution."
The biggest hurdle to commercial viability was the electrolysis process, Mr Holleaux said. Manufacturers were trying to make the water-splitting equipment cheaper and more efficient, but were probably 10 to 15 years away, Holleaux said.
Pour Patrick Saultier, directeur d'IDSE (Ile de Sein Energies), "Aujourd’hui, on nous trompe avec cette question du stockage. C’est un moyen de montrer que la transition est très coûteuse."
At Semakau, ENGIE and Schneider have co-developed a common energy management solution to integrate the various renewable energy sources with a portfolio of storage systems. They will also use hydrogen as an energy source, to smooth out lumpy output or fulfil any temporary increase in the load profile. The hydrogen chain will include a low-temperature hydrogen generator, storage for the hydrogen generated and a fuel cell for converting the stored hydrogen into electrical energy. A hydrogen refuelling station will be constructed and interfaced with the hydrogen cycle to fuel electric vehicles such as forklifts, light vans or scooters.
ENGIE, Bolloré et Senoko Energy