Energy

Fronius rolls out its first customer SolHub solar-to-hydrogen station

Fronius rolls out its first cu...
Visualization of the SAN Biotech Park under construction in Herzogenburg, with its huge 1.5 MW solar array on top
Visualization of the SAN Biotech Park under construction in Herzogenburg, with its huge 1.5 MW solar array on top
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Visualization of the SAN Biotech Park under construction in Herzogenburg, with its huge 1.5 MW solar array on top
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Visualization of the SAN Biotech Park under construction in Herzogenburg, with its huge 1.5 MW solar array on top
A prototype SolHub unit at Fronius's research and development site
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A prototype SolHub unit at Fronius's research and development site
The SAN Group facility will use the Fronius SolHub system to generate 100 kg of clean H2 each day – enough to fully fuel around 16 passenger cars
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The SAN Group facility will use the Fronius SolHub system to generate 100 kg of clean H2 each day – enough to fully fuel around 16 passenger cars
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Well-respected Austrian solar energy company Fronius has broken ground on its first customer green hydrogen hub, giving us a good look at what it'll take to run a fleet of vehicles on green hydrogen produced entirely on-site using solar panels.

The first Fronius SolHub is under construction as part of SAN Group's new hydrogen facility in Herzogenburg, Lower Austria. Producing an average of around 100 kg of clean hydrogen a day, it'll be used as a filling station for SAN's own hydrogen vehicles. SAN is also working out deals with other companies interested in potentially running their own similar hubs, to use this facility as a demonstrator of sorts.

The aim here is to generate hydrogen fuel in a completely standalone, self-contained and clean fashion, and to do so, the SolHub requires some 1.5 megawatts of photovoltaic panels. That's not a small installation – the average home rooftop system is typically around 3-6 kilowatts, to put things in context. For 1.5 MW of solar, you're looking at some 5,000 or more panels, taking up close to 100,000 square feet (9,000 square meters) of space.

A prototype SolHub unit at Fronius's research and development site
A prototype SolHub unit at Fronius's research and development site

One hundred kilograms of green hydrogen a day will fully fuel around 16 typical fuel cell passenger cars, or power some 1,500 km (930-odd miles) of bus or truck travel.

Fronius is investing quite a bit on hydrogen, and is soon to begin construction on a new "hydrogen competence center" in Steinhaus, where it plans to accelerate R&D as well as production of H2 systems. This first SolHub installation is expected to be complete and commissioned by the spring of 2022.

Source: Fronius

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5 comments
5 comments
Oirinth
While I'm in favor of green energy, I hope either the figures from the article are wrong or my math is wrong.

5000 panels @ approx. $400 each, means panels alone will cost $2 million to fuel 16 vehicles a day
Joe1962
@Oirinth: indeed. Besides if that "visualization" is supposed to be close to the actual installation, that looks like at most 150 solar panels. There's no "huge solar array" anywhere on there.
ScienceFan
Today it is incredibly wasteful to make hydrogen from solar pv rather than use the solar PV to decarbonize the grid. Let's do the math: when using 1.5MW to replace coal fired power in Australia: capacity factor .27, 1.52 tons of CO2 per MWh of coal power = 14.8 tons of CO2 avoided per day. Since there is lot's of coal fired power in Australia that should be the base case. Now they use the same 1.5MW in stead to fuel 1500km of bus or truck travel per day. Because the power is not used to shut down 1.5MW of coal fired power plant that adds the 14.8 tons of co2 per day. That is a net emission of 9850 grams of CO2 per km of hydrogen bus or truck. That is 10 times more than a diesel truck. So nice idea but 20 years too soon. Of course in 20 years you would drive 4500km a day with battery trucks.
Graeme S
Science fan, I don't think saying it is wasteful to use the solar to make hydrogen is correct, the sun shines everywhere and all people can harvest its rays to do what they want to with it. So if we want to change the entire energy reliance from fossil fuel we need to use the abundant renewable sunlight to make whatever other fuel we need, it is not wasteful, it is entrepreneurial and should be greatly encouraged.
Attila Lengyel
The math does not add up here.

1) Why not charge EVs using the 1.5MW power? Or batteries?
2) Why not to sell it back to the grid?
3) The number of hours in a day where solar can work efficiently in Austria is very low, especially in winter. The output will vary based on weather conditions.
4) 100 kg per day is about $500 per day revenue. Financially this does not look viable and sustainable.